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L PLAN OF EIHMINCJHj 




* the late jo.seph hill 



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DA 
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. MARTIN'S CHURCH 



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THE STORY OF THE ENGLISH TOWNS 



BIRMINGHAM 



J.» HS B." MASTERMAN 



LONDON 

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING 
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE 

NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1920 



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PREFACE 

I HAVE mentioned overleaf some of the most 
accessible authorities from which I have 
drawn materials for this book. I wish to express 
my special indebtedness to Mr. R. K. Dent, whose 
Making of Birmingham is a storehouse of information 
about the history and institutions of the city. 
Mr. Howard Pearson has most kindly allowed me 
to avail myself of his great knowledge of Birming- 
ham, and has read through these chapters in proof. 
Mr. Walter Powell, Chief Librarian of the Birming- 
ham Public Libraries, has given valuable help in 
connection with the illustrations and maps. 

I have tried to avoid overloading this book with 
details of merely local interest. My aim has been 
to show the part that Birmingham has played in 
national history. I hope that the citizens of 
Birmingham wul accept this attempt to tell the 
story of their city as an expression of gratitude for 
the many kindnesses that I received from them 
during the ten years that I had the honour of sharing 
their life and interests. 

J. HOWARD B. MASTERMAN. 



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AUTHORITIES 



HuTTOfj, W., A History of Birmingham. 

LANGPOKD, J. A., A Century of Birmingham Lilt, 1741 -1841. 

Dint, R. K., Old and New Birmingham. 

The Making of Birmingham. 
BUNCE, J. T., Old St. Martin's. 

Baynrs, Bishop Hamilton, Two Centuries of Church Life, 
MuiRHEAD, J. H. (edited by), Nine Famous Birmingham Men, 

Birmingham Institutions, 
British Association Handbook, 1913. 

Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organisation of Political Parties. 
DAJ.B, A. W. W-, Life of R. W. Dale. 
Birmingham Numsrr of Tie Timet, October 3, 1912. 
JON IS, J. E., A Short History of Birmingham (for Schools), 



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CONTENTS 

I. Introduction ... ... ... ... i 

II. Medieval Birmingham ... ... ... 5 

III. Puritan Birmingham ... ... ... 10 

IV. The Industrial Revolution ... ... 19 

V. Birmingham during the Napoleonic Wars 29 

VI, The Reform Act ... ... ... ... 36 

VII. Municipal Reform ... ... ... 46 

VIII. Political Life from 1850... ... ... 60 

IX. Religious Life in Birmingham ... ... 66 

X. Education ... ... ... .., 78 

XI. Industrial Progress ... ... ... 85 

XII. Literary and Artistic Association ... 92 

XIII. Some Birmingham Worthies ... ... 101 

Note on Ways of Spelling Birmingham ... 103 

Indsx ... ... ... ... ... IO( 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



St. Martin's Church ... ... Frontispiece 

Agreement with Monks op Tykeford, a.d. 1381 



The Bull Ring in the XVIIIth Century ... 48 

... 64 

Birmingham Cathedral ... ... ... ... 76 

Sir Josiah Mason ... ... ... ... 86 

The Vacxhall Estate ... ... ... ... 90 

Frtm a dfaviin£ bj L . Ptdity, iBjo 



END-PAPERS 




Conjectural Plan of Birmingham in 1553 

BjJoHtkHill 


Front 


Plan of Birmingham in 1731 

By W. WittUf 


Back 



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BIRMINGHAM 



INTRODUCTION 

NO English borough has played a mote important 
part in the industrial and political life of the 
nation during the last hundred years than Birming- 
ham. Starting as a small manorial estate in the 
eleventh century, it has gradually become the centre 
of a great industrial area reaching to Dudley and 
Wolverhampton in the west, and towards Coventry 
and Nuneaton in the east. Its growth has been due 
in part to natural advantages of climate and situa- 
tion, but even more to the energy and enterprise of 
its citizens. The fact that Birmingham developed 
later than its neighbours saved it from sharing in the 
decline that the older mediaeval towns suffered 
through the restrictive policy of the craft gilds, and 
enabled it, at a later period, to offer asylum to Non- 
conformists who were denied the right of public 
worship in chartered towns. It has recently been 
described as " the typical city of industrial in- 
dividualism." * Hntton's account of the people of 
Birmingham as he saw them in 1741, though 
coloured by local patriotism, is typical of what many 
other observers have noticed. " They were a 

* Sir William Ashley in British Association Handbook, 1913. 



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2 BIRMINGHAM 

species I had never seen ; they possessed a vivacity I 
had never beheld ; I had been among dreamers, 
but now I saw men awake, their very step along the 
street showed vivacity ; every man seemed to know 
and prosecute bis own affairs." The number of 
different industries carried on in Birmingham has 
been of great advantage to the city in giving 
stability to industry and in fostering variety of 
interest The city has fewer men of great wealth 
than most of our other great industrial centres, but 
a considerable number of Birmingham manufacturers 
have attained to a fairly high standard of prosperity. 

Until recently, most of the leading citizens have 
lived within easy reach of the heart of the city, 
instead of escaping to more distant suburbs, and this 
has tended to prevent the detachment from civic 
interests that has been so injurious to some of our 
English towns. Birmingham has shown a special 
aptitude for developing the civic loyalty of the 
strangers within its gates, and not a few of the men 
who are most closely associated with the public life 
of the city came to it from other parts of the 
country. Bir ming ham has, I think, less than other 
English cities of the clannishness that resents the 
intrusion of " aliens." 

Birmingham is just far enough away from London 
to avoid being attracted into the solar system of 
the metropolis. There is little of the somewhat 
artificial literary and artistic life that develops in 
a community of leisured people, but the city has long 
since lived down the reputation for shoddiness that 
was once associated with the word " Brummagem." 
Art and literature cannot, in a city like Birmingham, 
be dissociated from industrial and commercial life. 
They must minister to the good life of the citizens 

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INTRODUCTION 3 

lather than to the aesthetic instincts of a privileged 
class. It is in design and craftsmanship, rather 
than in poetry and music, that art tends to express 
itself in a community whose chief industry is the 
production of finished articles, the raw materials 
for which are imported from other districts — iron 
from Staffordshire, and steel from Sheffield. Some 
of the industries that formerly made their home in 
Birmingham are no longer carried on there. Nail- 
malrJTig has migrated to Dudley and Stourbridge, 
saddlery to Walsall, cutlery to Sheffield. But as 
these trades have dwindled, others have developed. 
Gun-making became an important industry at the 
end of the seventeenth century, and hardware and 
jewellery soon after. Brass-work and engineering 
established themselves in the course of the eighteenth 
century, and many other industries have since been 
added. In recent years a centrifugal tendency has 
shown itself, and new factories have grown up on 
the outskirts of the city, in the area that has lately 
been included within the municipal boundaries. 
This will tend to relieve the congestion of population 
in the central part of the city, and encourage the 
growth of garden suburbs like those at Bournville and 
Harbome. There are slum areas in Birmingham, 
as in all our great industrial towns, that must be 
completely cleared at the earliest opportunity. The 
civic authorities are fully alive to the importance of 
ridding Birmingham of the squalor and ugliness that 
were the legacy of the rapid and unregulated growth 
that followed on the industrial revolution. 

Politically, Birmingham has during the nine- 
teenth century steadily supported democratic ideas, 
and has been conspicuous for its loyalty to the 
leaders who have succeeded in winning its confidence. 



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4 BIRMINGHAM 

While leading the movement for the municipalisation 
of public services, it has not proved a fruitful field 
for the more extreme forms of Socialism. Under 
Mr. Chamberlain's leadership, it has in recent years 
become a stronghold of the newer Imperialism, which 
desires to foster trade within the Empire by prefer- 
ential tariffs. The political future of the city is a 
matter about which it would be rash to prophecy. 
At present the Labour opinion in the city is divided, 
and is unable in consequence to exercise the influence 
that it would otherwise be able to do in politi- 
cal affairs. Whether Birmingham will ultimately 
become a Labour stronghold only the future can 
determine. 

The attention of Birmingham is directed to the 
present and the future rather than to the past ; 
yet no city can afford to neglect its own past. 



No community can break the entail of its own 
historic development without impoverishing its 
present and endangering its future. 



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CHAPTER II 

MEDIEVAL BIRMINGHAM 

THE Anglo-Saxons conquered and settled the 
western Midlands from two directions. The 
Hwiccas from the south-west, under their King 
Ceawlin, pushed up into Worcestershire and south 
Warwickshire, but appear to have been checked in 
their advance by the great forest of Arden that 
covered all Warwickshire north of the Avon. 
Another body of invaders, landing at the mouth of 
the Trent, gradually forced their way into the 
Midlands, and small parties penetrated into the 
forest of Arden from the east. One such small 
group, the ittgas or family of Berm, established their 
ham or home on the banks of the little river Rea, 
not far from the old Roman Rykneild Street A 
rough track connected the village in the valley with 
Egbald's Ton (now Edgbaston), a group of houses 
on Rykneild Street ; and near by the village of Aston 
(East town) grew up. The country around was open 
heath land, and King's Heath, Small Heath, Balsall 
Heath still survive as names of outlying districts of 
the city. 

The earliest authentic information that we have 
about Birmingham is supplied by Domesday Book. 
" Richard holds of William four hides in Benninge- 
ham. The arable employs six ploughs ; one is in 
the demense. There are live villeins and four bordars 



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6 BIRMINGHAM 

and two ploughs. Wood half a mile long and four 
furlongs broad. It was and is worth twenty 
shillings. Ulwine held it freely in the time of King 
Edward." 

We gather from this account that Ulwine, the 
Saxon owner, had been dispossessed, and the land 
granted to William Fitz-Ansculf, a Norman nobleman 
whose seat was Dudley Castle, and who also held the 
manors of Selly Oak, Handsworth, Edgbaston, Aston, 
Witton and Erdington, which are all now included 
in Greater Birmingham. Several of these manors 
are valued in Domesday at a larger sum than 
Birmingham, the entire population of which ap- 
parently consisted of nine families, and the household 
of Richard, the Lord of the Manor. . No church is 
mentioned, though there was certainly a Norman 
church there a little later. 

In the twelfth century the manor of Birmingham 
passed into the hands of Gervase Faganel, who in 
1154 granted it to his " sewer " or steward, Peter, 
the grandson of the Richard who had held it at the 
time of the Domesday Survey. Twelve years later 
Peter De Bermingham secured from the Crown a 
charter authorising him to hold a market on 
Thursdays " at his castle of Burmingeham.'' This 
charter was confirmed by Richard I. in 1189, and 
marks the beginning of the commercial life of 
Birmingham. In 1250 William De Bermingham 
obtained from Henry III. the privilege of holding a 
fair for four days at Ascensiontide. In the following 
year, he also obtained permission for another fair 
on St John Baptist's Day and the two days follow- 
ing — a date afterwards altered to TyrMnyltiffls. The 
market rights of the manor were purchased by the 
Town Commissioners from the heiresses of Lord 



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MEDIEVAL BIRMINGHAM 7 

Archer for £12,500 hi 1824, when the present Market 
Hall was erected. The two fairs were maintained 
till recent times, the autumn fair being known as 
Onion Fair. They were opened with civic pre- 
cessions and banquets, and were associated with 
amusement rather than with serious business. As 
official functions, they came to an end in 1875. 

The De Bermingham family played an honourable 
part in national affairs. One of them took part in 
the reduction of Ireland under Henry II., and became 
the founder of the Irish branch of the family, which 
still survives. Another, William, joined Simon de 
Montfort, and fell at the battle of Evesham. Another 
William served under Edward I. in Gascony, where 
he was taken prisoner. His grandson raised forces 
for Edward II. in 1324, and was summoned to 
Parliament by Edward III. under the title of Lord 
William De Ber m i ng ham. The tombs of several of 
these De Berminghams are in St. Martin's Church. 
The estate remained in the hands of the same family 
till 1536, when Edward De Bermingham was im- 
prisoned and dispossessed in circumstances that are 
somewhat obscure, and his estates transferred, a 
few years later, to John Dudley, afterwards Duke 
of Northumberland, on whose attainder for high 
treason the manor again escheated to the Crown, 
and was subsequently granted to Thomas Marrow, 
in whose family it remained till the last century. 

Some time in the thirteenth century St. Martin's 
Church was erected on the site of a smaller Norman 
or Saxon church, and was endowed with two 
Chantries by members of the De Clodshale family, 
of Saltley. A Hospital or Priory, dedicated to 
St. Thomas the Apostle, was founded soon after, but 
the few references to this Priory that have survived 

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8 BIRMINGHAM 

do not present its monks in a very creditable light. 
Both the Priory and the Chantries were confiscated 
at the Reformation. 

A much more important foundation was the 
Gild of the Holy Cross, which was established in 
1392 at the request of " the Bailiffs and commonalty 
of Bermyingeham," with a Master, Wardens and a 
brotherhood, and a Chantry at St. Martin's. A Gild 
Hall was erected in New Street, and the Gild 
gradually took over a good deal of the work formerly 
done by the manorial authorities, including the 
relief of the poor and the repair of two great stone 
bridges and of the highways. A similar Gild of 
St John the Baptist was established at Deritend, 
on the other side of the Rea. At the Reformation 
the property of the Deritend Gild, including a 
Grammar School, was seized by the Crown, and the 
Gild of the Holy Cross only retained its almshouses, 
losing for a time all its endowments. In 1552, 
Edward VI. restored to the town a part of the 
plundered property, then valued at £31 a year, and 
the old GUd Hall was then turned into a Grammar 
School, the later history of which will be told 
hereafter. 

By the Tudor period Birmingham had become a 
flourishing little town. In his Itinerary of Britain, 
John Lelaud describes his visit in 1538. Entering 
Birmingham from Deritend, he notices the smiths 
and cutlers in the hamlet, and the " proper chappell " 
(St. John's, Deritend). Crossing the bridge into 
Birmingham, which he describes as " a good market 
town," he writes : " There be many smiths in the 
towne that use to make knives and all manner of 
cutting tooles, and many loriners that make bittes, 
and a great many naylors. Soe that a great part of 

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MEDIEVAL BIRMINGHAM 9 

the towne is maintained by smithes, who have their 
iron and sea-cole out of Staffordshire." A few 
details of interest are supplied by a Survey of the 
town made in 1553, when the manor escheated to the 
Crown. From this we learn that there was a Town 
Hall or "Tolbooth," where the business of the 
Court-Leet was conducted, and which acquired its 
later name of Leather Hall from its use by the 
" Searchers and Sealers of Leather " whose business 
it was to inspect and stamp the leather produced in 
the town. 

The last important event in the history of 
mediaeval Birmingham was the foundation of 
Lench's Trust, the nucleus of which was a legacy by 
William Lench, which was subsequently augmented 
by benefactions by other donors. The Trust took 
over much of the charitable work that the Gild of the 
Holy Cross had done before its suppression. 



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CHAPTER III 

PURITAN BIRMINGHAM 

AT the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
Birmingham was a busy little market town, 
with a population of about 5000 and a considerable 
industrial life. As an unincorporated town, it was 
still under the jurisdiction of the Bailiffs of the 
Manor, and the townsfolk were dependent on their 
own exertions for the maintenance of their prosperity. 
In the religious and political controversies that arose 
in the early years of the century Birmingham sup- 
ported Parliament in its opposition to the autocratic 
claims of the Crown. When Charles I. made his 
second ship-money levy in 1637, the county of 
Warwick petitioned unsuccessfully for a reduction 
of its assessment on the ground of the weekly allow- 
ances that it had made to Birmingham during a 
pestilence that had visited the town in the previous 
summer. The assessment on Birmingham was £100, 
which may be compared with £266 levied on 
Coventry. 

When the war broke out, Birmingham threw 
itself whole-heartedly on the Parliamentary side. 
Clarendon speaks of " Bromicham, a town so gener- 
ally wicked, that it had risen upon small parties of 
the king's, and killed or taken them prisoners, and 
sent them to Coventry, declaring a more peremptory 
malice to his Majesty than any other place." A 



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PURITAN BIRMINGHAM n 

few days before setting up his standard at Notting- 
ham, the king marched through Warwickshire, and 
demanded entry into Coventry. The men of 
Coventry refused to open their gates and manned 
the walls against the royal forces. Three hundred 
men of Birmingham shared in the defence of Coventry 
and "regardless of their own lives for their Countrie's 
good, and fearless of the cavaliers' cannon-shot . . , 
dauntlessly sallyed out of the Citie, and did execution 
on their enemies, forcing them to me and forsake 
them." 

The Birmingham blade-makers are said to have 
supplied the Earl of Essex with fifteen thousand 
sword-blades, while they " not only refused to supply 
the king's forces with swords for their money, but 
imprisoned divers who bought swords upon suspicion 
that they intended to supply the king's forces with 
them." They also, "with unusual industry and 
vigilance, apprehended all messengers who were 
employed, or suspected to be so, in the king's 
service." Though Birmingham was not a fortified 
town, the townsfolk " had so great a desire to 
distinguish themselves from the king's good subjects, 
that they cast up little slight earthworks at both 
ends of the town, and barricaded the rest, and 
voluntarily engaged themselves not to admit any 
intercourse with the king's troops." Charles I. 
stayed at Aston Hall on his way to Edge Hill, and on 
the following day the men of Birmingham cut off his 
baggage-train and captured his plate and furniture, 
which they sent to the Earl of Essex at Warwick. 

In the spring of the following year Prince Rupert, 
with a small force of about two thousand, passed by 
Birmingham on his way to York, and determined to 
occupy it. Though the town had only a hundred and 



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12 BIRMINGHAM 

fifty musketeers and a troop of horse, it was decided to 
resist the Royal forces, and earthworks were cast up 
near Camp Hill. But the Royalists were easily 
able to outflank and disperse the civilian force, and 
put the Roundhead cavalry to flight. The Earl of 
Denbigh, who was in command of Rupert's cavalry, 
was killed in the fray. Some looting took place 
after the occupation of the town, and when the 
Royalist troops left nest day, they set fire to it in 
places, and 78 houses were destroyed. They also 
pulled down the mill of one Richard Porter, where 
sword-blades were manufactured for the Parlia- 
mentary forces. As only eleven men, and two 
women, are recorded as having lost their lives in the 
defence of the town, the fighting cannot have been 
very severe. The cavalier losses were about thirty 
men. 

The Birmingham men had their revenge by an 
attack on Aston HalL The Holte family had for 
several generations resided at Duddeston Manor 
House, and in 1611 Thomas Holte purchased one of 
the baronetcies offered for sale by James I. as a 
means of raising funds for the suppression of the 
Ulster rebellion, so adding the Ulster crest of a red 
hand to bis escutcheon. A few years later, he 
acquired Aston Park, and began the erection of a 
fine mansion, which is said to have been designed by 
Inigo Jones. The Hall was completed by 1635, and, 
as has been already said, the king was entertained 
there on his way to Edge Hill. In December, 
1643, twelve hundred townsmen from Birmingham 
attacked the Hall, which was defended by Sir 
Thomas Holte's retainers, reinforced by forty 
musketeers from Dudley. The staircase of the Hall 
still bears traces of the bombardment. After two 



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PURITAN BIRMINGHAM 13 

days' siege, the Hall was captured and plundered. 
Edgbaston Hall was seized and fortified by an 
irregular force under the command of one John Fox, 
a tinker by trade, who seemed to have carried on a 
successful guerrilla war against the Royalist forces 
in the neighbourhood. 

The staunch support given by Birmingham to the 
Parliamentary cause made the name of the town a 
byword to the Cavalier party after the Restoration. 
Among the minor industries carried on there was the 
manufacture of counterfeit coins, and Brummagem 
became a name for fraudulent pretentiousness in 
the political controversies of the Restoration period. 
" I coined heroes " says Tom Payne, " as fast as 
Birmingham groats." Another writer of the time 
describes Satan as " that Brummingham Uniter of 
Mankind." The Whig leaders were nicknamed by 
their opponents " Birmingham Protestants," and a 
contemporary ballad describes Monmouth as a 
" mobile gay fop, with Birmingham pretences." 
The reputation of Birmingham as the centre of the 
counterfeit coinage industry survived till the middle 
of the eighteenth century, when a writer in the 
Gentleman's Magazine contributed a poem "Upon 
a Birmingham Halfpenny." 

The unpopularity of Birmingham may be due in 
part to jealousy of the growing prosperity of the 
town, which was developing its industries vigorously 
during the latter half of the century. In 1690 
Misson, a French traveller, after describing the fine 
works of " Rock Crystal, Swords, Heads for Canes, 
Snuff Boxes, and other fine works of steel " that he 
saw at Milan, adds that they can be had better and 
cheaper in Birrningham. A little later, in 1724, 
another traveller, referring to the ironwork carried 



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14 BIRMINGHAM 

on in the town, says : " It's incredible the number of 
people maintained by these lion and Bath-metal 
works, and the great perfection they have brought 
them to ; furnishing all Europe with their toys, as 
sword-hilts, screws, buttons, buckles, and innumer- 
able other works." The manufacture of buckles 
became an important local industry, and metal 
buttons were also made in great numbers. When 
buckles went out of fashion at the end of the 
eighteenth century, thousands of workpeople in 
Birmingham were thrown out of work, and strenuous 
efforts were made to induce the king, as the leader 
of fashion, to discourage the " unmanly, absurd and 
ridiculous " fashion of shoestrings. 

The Birmingham gun-making industry received 
its first official recognition when Sir Richard 
Newdigate succeeded in securing for the town from 
William III. an order for muskets, for which he 
had been dependent on Holland. The Birmingham 
gunmakers showed their gratitude by presenting 
Sir Richard with a musket, which is still preserved, 
with the accompanying letter, at Arbury. 

The efforts of Clarendon, after the Restoration, 
to re-establish the authority of the Church of 
England led to the passing of the Act of Uniformity 
in 1662, and the ejection from their cures of those 
ministers who refused to conform to the Anglican 
system. Three years later the "Five Mile Act" 
prohibited these dispossessed ministers from settling 
in or near an incorporated town. Many of them 
found refuge in the larger unincorporated towns, 
which became the strongholds of Nonconformity. 
At least twelve of them settled in Birmingham, and 
their presence there probably attracted to the town 
a considerable number of Puritan laymen, whose 



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PURITAN BIRMINGHAM 15 

independence of spirit and earnestness of purpose 
must have made them a valuable acquisition to the 
life of the town. As soon as the Toleration Act of 
1689 legalised Nonconformity, a meeting-house was 
erected in Birmingham near St. Martin's Church, 
and a second " Presbyterian " place of worship was 
built three years later. The Society of Friends 
established itself in the town during the lifetime of 
George Fox, who once at least visited the town. As 
was the case elsewhere, popular prejudice against the 
" Quakers " showed itself in occasional attacks on 
their place of meeting. The Roman Catholics also 
suffered from mob violence, a fine church which they 
erected in 1687 being destroyed by a Protestant riot 
within two months of its consecration. 

The strongly Nonconformist character of Birming- 
ham fostered its industrial progress. Cut off from 
entry into the learned professions by the fact that 
the Universities were barred to them, English 
Nonconformists devoted their energies to business 
life. " Certain ideas," says Sir William Ashley, 
" became dominant among them, which had not 
indeed been altogether absent from the Christianity 
of earlier centuries, but had been moderated in their 
operation by other and conflicting opinions. Among 
these ideas we may single out the following : 
business as a divine ' calling ' ; the sinfulness of 
pleasure-seeking ; the lawfulness of material gain." 
He quotes Richard Baxter's advice to his congrega- 
tion : " If God show you a way in which you may 
lawfully get more than in another way, if you refuse 
this and choose the less gainful way, you cross one of 
the ends of your calling, and you refuse to be God's 
steward." * 

• Sir William Ashley, Tht Economic Organisation of England, 



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16 BIRMINGHAM 

Industrious and frugal, while distrusting amuse- 
ments as worldly and asceticism as papistical, the 
Birmingham manufacturers soon began to be 
capitalists on a small scale, and were able to extend . 
their trade into wider European markets. Instead 
of the craft gilds, of the existence of which in Bir- 
mingham there is no trace, the local manufacturers 
appear to have developed a strong capacity for 
voluntary association, and at a later time public 
meetings were constantly held to consider the price 
of raw materials, improvements in means of com- 
munication, and other matters affecting local 
industries. 

Though Nonconformity was strong in Birming- 
ham, the Church of England was still firmlyentrenched 
in the affections of a large section of the people. 
The old parish church of St. Martin's, built of a soft 
friable stone, had fallen into decay, and it was now 
encased in red brick, "buried in an ugly tomb, 
literally bricked up as if, like Constance in ' Marmion,' 
it had committed an inexpiable sin, and had received 
sentence of living death." * In this brick casing 
it remained till 1872. The interior of the church 
suffered an even more hideous desecration. " In- 
truders were suffered to fence themselves about in 
high-backed and securely-locked pews, and to create 
for themselves freeholds in the church of the people." 
A regular traffic went on in " pews " or " kneelings," 
both at St, Martin's and St, John's, Deritend. 

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the 
growth of the town made further church accommoda- 
tion necessary, and an Act of Parliament was passed 
authorising the erection of a church in the high- 
town," which was then on the edge of Birmingham. 

• J. T. Bnnce. History 0/ 014 St. Martin's. 



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PURITAN BIRMINGHAM 17 

A site known as the " Barley Close " was given by 
Mr. Robert Phillips, and funds were raised for 
building the church of St Philip's, to which a parish 
was assigned. The design, which was furnished by 
Mr. Thomas Archer, a local architect, shows the 
influence of the school of Wren, and was to some 
extent modelled on St. Paul's Cathedral. Hutton 
speaks with enthusiasm of the new church as he saw 
it while the neighbourhood was still a residential 
district. " When I first saw St. Philip's at a proper 
distance, uncrowded with houses, for there were none 
to the north. New Hall excepted, untarnished with 
smoke, and illuminated by a western sun, I was 
delighted with its appearance, and thought it then, 
what I do now, and what others will do in the future, 
the pride of the place. If we assemble the beauties 
of the edifice, which cover a rood of ground ; the 
spacious area of the churchyard, occupying four 
acres, ornamented with walks in great perfection, 
shaded with trees in double and treble ranks, and 
surrounded with buildings in elegant taste ; perhaps 
its equal cannot be found in the British dominions." 
A comer of the site, not required for the church 
and rectory-house, was used for a free school — 
the Blue Coat Charity School— erected in 1724. The 
lease of this school, which is still a flourishing 
institution, and will shortly be moved to a new site on 
the outskirts of the city, sets forth that " several 
inhabitants of Birmingham and other pious people, 
considering that profaneness and debauchery were 
greatly owing to gross ignorance of the Christian 
religion, especially among the poorer sort, and that 
nothing was more likely to support the practice of 
Christianity than an early and pious training of 
youth . . . have raised a considerable sum of 



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18 BIRMINGHAM 

money for erecting and setting up a charity 
school." 

The Church feeling of Birmingham was shown in 
other and less desirable ways than church building. 
A section of the people in the town were affected by 
the anti-Wing reaction of Queen Anne's reign, and 
when the notorious Dr. Sacheverell visited the town 
in 1709, and rode in triumph through the streets, 
" the inhabitants of this region of industry caught the 
spark of the day and grew warm for the Church." 
This " warmth " showed itself a little later, when 
something aroused the mob of Birmingham to attack 
the Meeting Houses. They burnt the Old Meeting 
House to the ground, and only spared the Lower 
Meeting House on the promise of the proprietor 
that it should be used for some other purpose, and 
that he would in future attend Deritend Church, 
where he had a pew 1 As a matter of fact, the build- 
ing continued to be used for services till seventeen 
years later (1732), when the inconvenience of the 
site led to the erection of a new building on the site 
where the New Meeting House now stands. 



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CHAPTER IV 

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 

DURING the latter half of the eighteenth 
century, English agriculture and industry 
were passing through the developments which are 
now generally called the Industrial Revolution. 
The wars and treaties of the earlier part of the 
century opened up wider markets for English goods, 
and the breakdown of the old trade regulations 
left enterprising traders more free to push their 
wares everywhere. Thus Hutton writes, in 1780 : 
" The commercial spirit of the age hath also pene- 
trated beyond the confines of Britain, and explored 
the whole continent of Europe ; nor does it stop 
there, for the West Indies and the American world 
are intimately acquainted with the Birmingham 
merchant ; and nothing but the exclusive command 
of the East India Company prevents our riders from 
treading upon the heels of each other in the streets 
of Calcutta." 

The growing demand for English products 
stimulated production, especially in the textile 
trades, and encouraged invention and organisation. 
Agricultural changes and a rapid growth of popula- 
tion provided a larger reservoir of labour, while the 
growth of credit and the large profits made by the 
rise in the price of land and by successful trade led 
to the development of the capitalist system. 



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20 BIRMINGHAM 

The influence of the Industrial Revolution was 
less marked in Birmingham than in the great in- 
dustrial centres of the north. One reason for this 
was that the textile industries, in which development 
was most rapid, never succeeded in establishing 
themselves in the town. For a time the weaving of 
hemp and cloth was a considerable industry in the 
district, and the first attempt to spin cotton by the 
method afterwards used, in a better form, by 
Arkwright, was made at Sutton Coldfield in 1700 ; 
and John Wyatt and I^ewis Paul, the original 
inventors, set up a spinning-engine in Birmingham, 
worked by "two asses, walking round an axis." 
But in spite of several efforts, cotton-spinning never 
proved successful. 

A seconoVreason was that the variety of trades 
carried on in the town tended to prevent — or at least 
to postpone — the growth of great factories with their 
attendant abuses. Birmingham remained till the 
end of the century a town of small manufacturers. 
But the prosperity of the town is shown by the rapid 
increase of population, which rose from 23,000 in 
1750 to about 70,000 at the end of the century. 
The town began to extend, and speculative builders 
prepared a legacy of trouble for later generations 
by crowding the courts with houses erected with 
little regard for beauty or sanitation. 

The wars of rfee* period brought prosperity to the 
gun-trade, and some of the Birmingham sword- 
makers showed a discreditable impartiality in 
supplying swords and cutlasses to friend and foe. 
In 1740 the growj" fi dejnaad jfl r hrarn Ird to the 
establishment^ of brass-foundries in the town. A 
notable captain of industry of this period was Mr. 
John Taylor, whom Hutton quaintly describes as a 



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THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 21 

man " who possessed the singular powers of per- 
ceiving things as they really are." " To this un- 
common genius we owe the gilt button, the japanned 
snuff-boxes, with the numerous race of enamels, 
also the paper snuff-box, at which one servant 
earned three pounds ten shillings per week, by 
painting them at a farthing each." The weekly 
output of buttons from Taylor's factory exceeded 
£800 in value. In partnership with Charles Lloyd, 
John Taylor founded the first bank in Birmingham, 
in 1765. On Mr. Taylor's death the control of the 
bank passed entirely into the hands of the Lloyd 
family. 

A much more famous Birmingham manufacturer 
was John Baskerville, who came to the town as a 
gravestone cutter, and subsequently set up as a 
japanner. " He effected an entire revolution in the 
manufacture of japanned articles, and his trays and 
waiters became greatly admired as works of art." 
Having acquired a considerable fortune, he turned 
his attention to the printing trade, and founded the 
world-renowned Baskerville Press, from which he 
issued the series of works that have made his name 
famous. After printing editions of Virgil and of 
Milton's poems, he produced a Greek Testament 
for Oxford University, and crowned his achieve- 
ments by the issue, in 1763, of the Baskerville folio 
Bible. On his death, in 1775, most of his type was 
bought by a French society, and used to print a 
handsome edition of the works of Voltaire. Some of 
it found its way into the possession of the University 
of Oxford, and was exhibited at the Birmingham 
Exhibition of 1885. 

One of Baskerville's apprentices in the japanning 
trade, Henry Clay, invented papier mache, made by 

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22 BIRMINGHAM 

pasting sheets of paper together. This he used for 
cabinets, sedan chairs and other purposes. He 
amassed a large fortune before the expiry of his 
patent enabled other manufacturers to enter the 
business. A pin factory was established in the town 
in 1763, and the jewellery trade grew rapidly. 
Birmingham hardware remained the staple industry, 
providing " axes for India and tomahawks for the 
natives of North America ; and for Cuba and the 
Brazils, chains, handcuffs and iron collars for the poor 
slaves. In the primeval forests of America the 
Birmingham axe cut down the old trees ; the cattle- 
pastures of Australia rang with the sound of Birming- 
ham bells ; in Bast India and the West they tended 
the fields of sugar-cane with Birmingham hoes." 
I do not know whether there is any truth in the 
charge that the manufacture of idols for export to 
India formed part of the local industry. 

The greatest of all the leaders of industry of this 
period was undoubtedly Matthew Boulton, whose 
father had come to Birmingham from Lichfield and 
set up business as a silver-stamper. Young Boulton 
set himself to lift the reproach from Brummagem 
products, and being possessed of a considerable 
fortune, which he increased by marriage with a rich 
Lichfield lady, he established a well-equipped 
factory in open country about two miles from the 
heart of the town, to which he gave the name of 
Soho, from the name of a wayside inn near by. 
The Soho factory attracted workmen from all parts 
of Europe, and was soon famous for the artistic 
excellence of its work. Boulton was a shrewd man 
of business who "would buy any man's brains," 
and (it may be added) was prepared to pay a fair 
price for them. The Soho works employed nearly a 



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THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 23 

thousand men, and became a school of design." 
Boulton wrote to a friend : " I have trained up many, 
and am training up more, country lads into good 
workmen, and wherever I find indications of skill 
and ability I encourage them." Boulton's greatest 
need was for power for carrying on his works, and 
at this juncture a fortunate accident brought him 
into connexion with James Watt. Watt, who had 
been developing his steam engine, based on a model 
of Newcomen's that he had been repairing under 
the protection of the University of Glasgow, had 
undertaken to supply one of these engines to Dr. 
Roebuck for the Carron Iron Works, but before it 
had got into working order Dr. Roebuck became 
bankrupt, and Boulton took over his share in the 
invention in payment of a debt of £1200 owing to 
him. He now invited Watt to join him in Birming- 
ham, and so the new firm of Boulton and Watt was 
established. 

Watt was a shy, unbusinesslike man, who found 
in Boulton exactly the partner that he needed. 
So in 1772 the Soho factory began to develop the 
steam engine. The firm passed through an anxious 
time before the invention showed itself capable of 
becoming a commercial success, but before Boulton 
and Watt retired in 1800 the reputation of their 
engines was secure, and the new Source of power now 
made available for mines and factories did more, 
perhaps, than any other invention of the time to 
shape the course of the Industrial Revolution. 
Without Boulton's energy and optimism, the genius 
of Watt would have achieved little. " In every 
relation of their long connexion, the cool, clear head 
and sagacious skill of Boulton were the mainstay 
of his delicate and nervous friend. The two 



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24 BIRMINGHAM 

partners were ever on the best of terms, although 
Boulton's patience must sometimes have been 
severely tried. His bold and vigorous policy always 
prevailed ; and whatever the modest genius of 
Watt devised, the enterprise and energy of Matthew 
Boulton brought thoroughly before the world." 
Efforts were made, successfully in -the case of the 
rotary crank, to induce Soho workmen to betray 
the secrets of the firm, but generally the employees 
were loyal to their masters. On his retirement 
James Watt settled at Heathfield Hall, Hands- 
worth, where he carried on mechanical investiga- 
tions till his death in 1819. The garret where he 
retired in order to be undisturbed in his work 
remains still in the same condition as when he left it. 
Among the men trained by Boulton at Soho the 
most remarkable was William Murdock, who owed 
his appointment to the fact that when he called to 
ask for employment he was wearing a wooden hat 
that he had turned on a lathe constructed by 
himself. Boulton recognised the inventiveness of 
the youth, and Murdock became a close associate 
of the two partners. While he was superintending 
the erection of one of Watt's engines in Cornwall, 
he constructed a working model of a locomotive 
steam engine, so forestalling the later invention of 
Stephenson. The model, which is now in the 
Birmingham Art Gallery, actually ran on the Cornish 
roads, greatly alarming the local pastor, who is said 
to have mistaken the fiery monster for the Evil One. 
Murdock was too busy with other things to carry 
this invention further, but in 1792 he adopted coal- 
gas for lighting his house and offices at Redruth, 
and even invented a portable gas lantern. Boulton 
adopted the new illuminant for lighting the Soho 



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THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 25 

factory, and Dr. Smiles says that on the occasion of 
the celebration of the peace of Amiens in 1802 the 
whole front of the factory was illuminated with 
coal-gas. The use of coal-gas for iUumination 
gradually spread, and the Soho factory added to its 
activities the manufacture of gas-making apparatus. 
Another of Boulton's young men was Francis 
Eginton, who became famous for a new method of 
picture-reproduction which was apparently akin to 
photography, but the secret of which has been lost. 
He left the firm in 1780 to set up business as a maker 
of stained glass, and specimens of his work can be 
seen at St. Paul's Church, Birmingham, at Lichfield 
Cathedral, and in many other places. 

Among Boulton's later activities was an earnest 
and successful effort to improve the copper coinage, 
so as to make it more artistic and harder to counter- 
feit. After making copper coins for the East India 
Company, and for the French Revolutionary Govern- 
ment, he received his first commission from the 
British Government in 1797. He died in 1809, at the 
ripe age of eighty-one. Boulton, Watt, Murdock, 
and Eginton are all buried in a chapel of Hands- 
worth Church, and a fine statue of Watt, by Francis 
Chantrey, stands in the church. Another statue of 
the great inventor, by Alexander Monro, was erected 
in 1868 in an open space in front of the Public 
Library. / 

One off the greatest hindrances to trade was the 
lack of convenient methods of transport. " Only 
light articles could be exported, as they had to be 
loaded on packhorses, which carried them by bridle- 
paths to Bewdley on the Severn, whence by barge 
they could be sent to Gloucester and Bristol." A 
coach ran regularly from Birmingham to London, 



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26 BIRMINGHAM 

doing the journey in two days, but even at the end 
of the century the roads around the town were 
atrociously bad. Some of them, according to Hutton 
were "scarcely passable." "For want of causeways 
and bridges, the water is suffered to flow over the 
road, higher than the stirrup." Thi'n'ansport of 
coal and iron along such roads was laborious and 
costly, and as soon as canals began to come into use, 
a number of Birmingham townsfolk determined to 
construct a canal from Birmingham to Wolver- 
hampton. The scheme was launched in 1767 and 
James Brindley, the famous engineer, was employed 
to plan out the undertaking, for which the necessary 
Act of Parliament was secured in 1768. The canal 
was completed by the following year, and was to some 
extent reconstructed by Telford in 1824, the water- 
way being widened, the locks reduced/in number, 
and several bends straightened. The success of this 
venture led to the construction of a second canal 
from Wednesbury, joining the Coventry canal at 
Fazeley, and in 1791 a more ambitious project was 
launched for a canal to Worcester wide enough to 
enable barges from the Severn to reach Birmingham. 
This canal, with its celebrated tunnel of two miles 
near King's Norton, was completed at a cost of 
£600,000. Till the'^dvent of railways, these canals 
were of the greatest service to the industries of 
Birmingham as a means of transport of raw material, 
and a good deal of coal, and oilier material — about 
8 million tons a year — is still conveyed by them. 
The last canal constructed in the neighbourhood was 
the Tame Valley Canal, between Great Bridge and 
Aston, which cost over £400x00, and was opened 
to traffic in 1845. The Birmingham Canal Company 
has encouraged the erection of works along the 



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THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 27 

canal by the giant of specially low tolls on coal and 
cinders, and the owners of such works have also a 
statutory right to use the canal water for their 
engines. As a result the canal banks for a consider- 
able distance are lined with " ironworks, mills, 
forges, brickworks, collieries, chain and anchor 
works, nail works, tube works, galvanising works, 
and chemical works." * 

The history of Birmingham journalism belongs 
to the period with which we are now dealing. A 
printer named Warren, whose chief title to fame lies 
in his connexion with Dr. Johnson, carried on a 
Birmingham Journal for a little while, but it had 
come to an end some years before the arrival of 
Mr. Axis, who in 1741 came to Birmingham from 
London and set up as a printer. He started a 
weekly newspaper under the title of The Birmingham 
Gazette, which was soon after enlarged to Aris's 
Birmingham Gazette. Dr. Langford, who was at one 
time local editor of the paper, has placed all students 
of the history of the town in his debt for the valuable 
collection of extracts from the files of the Gazette 
from 1741 to 1841 that he has collected in A Century 
of Birmingham Life, 

The growing prosperity of Birmingham during 
the later part of the eighteenth century is shown 
by several local events. In 1765 Dr. John Ash 
summoned a meeting to consider the erection of a 
hospital. The project was warmly taken up, but 
various delays intervened, and in 1768 a musical 
entertainment was organised to assist the fund. 
The entertainment was given in St. Philip's Church, 
and marks the beginning of the long series of 
a British 



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28 BIRMINGHAM 

Triennial Musical Festivals that have been among the 
most important features of the artistic life of the 
town. The hospital was completed in 1779. Five 
years earlier, the first theatre worthy of the name 
had been built in New Street. It was burnt down 
in 1792, but a finer building was at once erected on 
the same site, and Mr. Macready, the father of the 
celebrated actor, became the manager. Among the 
earliest visitors to the new Theatre were Mrs. 
Siddons and her brother, John Philip Kemble. 

Another evidence of the intellectual activity of 
the time was the establishment of the Birmingham 
Library, in which Dr. Priestley took a leading share. 
Just before the end of the century a permanent 
building was erected on the tontine system, and the 
institution flourished, in spite of a secession of the 
Nonconformist members, who objected to the in- 
clusion of books on controversial theology, and 
in consequence founded the New Library, which 
carried on side by side with its parent-institution till 
it was re-absorbed in i860. 



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BIRMINGHAM DURING THE NAPOLEONIC WARS 

FOR twenty years, with one short interval. 
Great Britain was at war, first with the French 
Revolutionary Government, then with Napoleon. 
Birmingham shared with the rest of the country in 
the privations and sufferings entailed by this long 
period of war, during which trade was disorganised, 
taxation increased, and food rose to famine prices. 

Shortly before the outbreak of war the Birming- 
ham riots of 1791 brought discredit on the town, 
and drove from it one of its most distinguished 
citizens. Dr. Priestley. Joseph Priestley was bom 
in 1733, the son of a Yorkshire manufacturer of home- 
spun. As a Nonconformist, he was unable to secure 
a university education, and was trained for the 
Nonconformist ministry at Daventry. After three 
years of ministerial work in Suffolk, he became a 
schoolmaster at Nantwich, and then a teacher at 
the Warrington Academy, where he began his 
scientific investigations. After some years, he 
returned to ministerial work at Mill Hul Chapel, 
Leeds, and then became attached to Lord Shelburne 
for several years in the capacity of librarian and 
literary adviser. In consequence of his religious 
views, he left Lord Shelburne's service, and came 
to London, where he became the friend of Josiah 



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30 BIRMINGHAM 

Wedgwood, who assisted him financially in the cost 
of his scientific work, and of Franklin. 

Priestley's earliest scientific work was done in the 
then little known subject of electricity, in which he 
made at least two discoveries of importance. He 
then turned his attention to the investigation of 
gasses, or " airs," as they were then called. He 
invented soda-water ; but his chief title to fame is his 
discovery of oxygen,* which he called " dephlogisti- 
cated air," on the theory that a substance which he 
called " phlogiston " was removed in combustion. 
Lavoisier, the great French chemist, to whom 
Priestley communicated his discovery in 1774, was 
able to disprove the " phlogiston " theory, and gave 
to the newly-discovered gas the name of oxygen. 
Priestley also discovered nitrogen, nitric oxide, 
hydrogen chloride, ammonia, and several other 
gases, and in a valuable work entitled Experiments 
and Observations on Different Kinds of Air he con- 
tributed some important facts about the influence of 
vegetation on the atmosphere. " He was, in fact, 
one of the earliest to trace the specific action of 
animals and plants on atmospheric air, and to show 
how these specific actions maintained its purity and 
constancy of composition." His discoveries led to 
his election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society, and 
Edinburgh University conferred on him the honorary 
degree of LL.D. 

Priestley was also known as a religious contro- 
versialist, his special purpose being to free Christ- 
ianity from what he regarded as ecclesiastical 
accretions. As a Unitarian he was suspected by the 

• According to Ide Freund (The Study of Chemical Composi- 
tion, p. 39), the Swedish chemist Scheele made the same discovery 
two years earlier. 



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DURING THE NAPOLEONIC WARS 31 

orthodox, while his concessions failed to win over 
agnostic opinion. 

Priestley's chief contribution to political thought 
is contained in his First Principles of Government, in 
which he forestalled some of the doctrines of the 
Utilitarian Philosophy. Bentham, who derived from 
Priestley the phrase " the greatest happiness of the 
greatest number," says that in this treatise he " saw 
delineated for the first time a plain as well as 
a true standard of whatever is right and wrong, 
useful and useless or mischievous in human conduct. " 
Priestley was an earnest advocate of toleration. 
" Unbounded freedom of thinking," he writes, " may 
certainly be attended by some inconveniences, but 
it cannot be restrained without infinitely greater 
inconveniences." 

In 1780 Priestley settled in Birmingham, and 
became the minister of the New Meeting House. 
His reputation as a scientist won him many friends, 
and he became one of a little group of men, including 
Boulton, Watt, and Erasmus Darwin (of Lichfield), 
who met once a month, and became known as 
the " Lunar Society," because the meetings were 
arranged so that the members could get home by 
moonlight. Josiah Wedgwood, Sir William Herschel, 
and Smeaton were among the visitors who from 
time to time attended the meetings. 

During his residence in Birmingham, Priestley 
carried on religious controversy and came to be 
regarded as the leader of the anti-Church party. 
As such, he was constantly denounced from the 
pulpits of the Church of England, and a strong 
personal prejudice was created against him. When 
the early enthusiasm for the French Revolution 
began to give place to fear of the excesses with which 



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32 BIRMINGHAM 

it was associated, Priestley's well-known sympathy 
with the revolutionary party became another point 
in the indictment against him. A dinner held to 
celebrate the second anniversary of the taking of the 
Bastille set a spatk to the smouldering antagonism, 
and a mob, inspired by the war-cry of " Church and 
King," broke the windows of the hotel, and then 
burnt down the New Meeting House, and demolished 
the Old Meeting House " with axes and hammers." 
Dr. Priestley was hurried away by his friends just 
before the mob reached his house, which they burnt. 
For three days, Birmingham was given over to 
mob rule, and the houses of several leading citizens 
known to be of liberal opinions were plundered and 
burnt, among the sufferers being Samuel Ryland, 
William Hutton and John Taylor. The arrival of a 
body of dragoons brought the riots to an end, and the 
town was obliged to pay £27,000 as compensation 
to those whose property had been destroyed. Dr. 
Priestley settled for a time in London, but was 
compelled by public hostility to emigrate to America, 
where he died in 1804. He bore his sufferings and 
losses with exemplary patience, his only expression 
of regret being at the destruction of his library and 
chemical apparatus, which were irreplaceable. It 
only remains to add that in 1874 a statue of Priestley 
was erected, by public subscription, in Victoria 
Square, and unveiled by Professor Huxley. 

The unruly character of a section of the Birming- 
ham people showed itself in various outbreaks of 
mob violence during the hungry years of the French 
war. Efforts were made to raise funds for providing 
bread at a reduced price for the poorest inhabitants, 
and to put down profiteering, or forestalling and 
regrating, as it was then called. Party feeling ran 



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JOSEPH PRIESTLEY 



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DURING THE NAPOLEONIC WARS 33 

high, and an " Association for the Protection of 
Property and the Constitution of this Country " was 
formed, to counteract the radicalism of which the 
"Protestant Dissenters" were regarded as the 
exponents. 

Birmingham was, from the beginning of the war, 
forward as a volunteering centre, and raised a corps 
of volunteer infantry, of which each member was 
to clothe and arm himself and serve without pay ; 
and also a body of Loyal Birmingham Light Horse 
Volunteers. In 1802 Nelson passed through the 
town, and was received with the greatest enthusiam. 
He was shown over several local factories, welcomed 
at the theatre, and entertained at a banquet, at 
which " Lady Hamilton favoured the company with 
several songs in the most superior style." 

An interesting series of letters on the social life 
of Birmingham at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century is contributed by Mr. John Morfitt to a 
collection of essays and poems compiled by Mr. Pratt. 
Mr. Morfitt, who had been for some years a resident 
in the town, bears testimony to the social spirit and 
marked attention and respect paid to strangers. 
Mr. Pratt confirms this verdict : " I have never found, 
in any part of the world, a more unaffected desire to 
see, serve, and amuse a stranger, whether information 
or curiosity be his motive." According to Morfitt, 
the Birmingham citizens were connoisseurs of ale, and 
" one of the chief luxuries of a Birmingham mechanic 
is a leg of mutton, with turnips and caper sauce." 
Tripe and cow-heel was also a favourite dish, which 
was announced by the town crier when ready for 
sale. Mr. Morfitt and the editor both mention love 
of gardens as a characteristic of the people. After 
speaking of the " voracious appetite for reading," 



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34 BIRMINGHAM 

and the charitable character of the Birmingham 
people, they turn to the darker side of the picture. 
The morals of the working people were very bad. 
The language used in the streets by the work-people 
from the factories was a succession of oaths, and 
drunkenness was common. Mr. Morfttt condemns 
strongly the employment of women in factories, 
whereby their homes are neglected and the children 
left to run wild till they, in their turn, are swept into 
the vortex of industrial life. " Boys and girls, men 
and women, frequently associate, and there is 
scarcely a line of separation drawn, either by policy, 
decorum, or sexual distinction. So that the work 
of the manufacturer is carried on, too many, it is 
to be feared, are totally indifferent whether vice or 
virtue, health or disease, modesty or indecency, 
compose the society. . . . The men and women 
teach the boys and girls the mingled industry and 
immorality they have learned themselves." 

By 1804 the political life of Birmingham had 
moved a long way from the Church and King 
attitude of 1791. "The manufactories have their 
politicians and republicans, as well as the barber's 
shop and the alehouse; yea, and their revolu- 
tionists, Robespierres, and atheists are as numerous 
and as fierce ; and it is as common to hear the down- 
fall of states, the High and Low Church party, the 
indivisibility of the great nation, the imperfection 
of thrones and dominions, and the perfectibility of 
human nature, the bill of rights and the bill of 
wrongs, discussed and determined in casting a button 
or pointing a pin, as at the Devil's tavern or the 
Robin Hood Society." 

When war broke out again after the short- 
lived piece of Amiens, Birmingham threw itself 



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DURING THE NAPOLEONIC WARS 35 

energetically into the work of enrolling volunteers 
to resist the threatened invasion, while the women 
set themselves to make flannel underclothing for 
the soldiers. 

The Orders in Council, with their restrictions on 
trade, were very unpopular in Birmingham, and the 
merchants and manufacturers agitated for their 
repeal. The deputies sent to Loudon to press for 
repeal were received on their return with great 
public rejoicings, and a special vote of thanks was 
accorded to Henry Brougham for the zeal, ability 
and perseverance with which he had supported the 
cause of repeal. In the following year, Thomas 
Attwood, who was then High Bailiff, was presented 
with a silver cup as a grateful testimonial for the 
assistance that he had rendered in the destruction 
of the monopoly of the East India Company. 

One link with old Birmingham was severed in 
1815, when the Commissioners bought the moat and 
Moat House, erected on the site of the old Manor 
House, and laid out the ground as a Cattle Market. 



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CHAPTER VI 

THE REFORM ACT 

THE period that followed the close of the 
Napoleonic war was one of disillusionment 
and distress throughout the country. The Corn 
Laws kept up the price of bread, and the demand for 
munitions of war ceased just at the time when the 
demobilisation of the army threw into the already 
overstocked labour market a great number of 
additional " hands." According to a statement of 
Brougham in the House of Commons, there were 
27,000 paupers in Birmingham two years after the 
close of the war. A petition to Parliament signed 
by thousands of the workers in the town gives a 
pathetic picture of the misery of the time. " Some 
cause," say the petitioners, " which we cannot 
understand has deprived industry of its reward, 
and has left us without employment and without 
bread, and almost without hope. We have no 
longer any demand for our labour nor any bread for 
our families. Our life has become useless to our 
country and burdensome to ourselves. . . . Many of 
us have not had any kind of employment for many 
months, and few of us more than two or three days' 
work per week, at reduced wages. The little pro- 
perty which we possessed in household furniture 
and effects, and the small, hard-earned accumulation 
of years of industry and care, have been consumed in 
36 

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THE REFORM ACT 37 

the purchase of food, and we ate now under the 
necessity of supporting our existence by a miserable 
dependence on parochial charity, or by soliciting 
casual relief from persons scarcely less distressed 
than ourselves. 

" In the midst of these painful sufferings and 
privations, our friends and neighbours tell us that 
we must wait, and hope for better times. We beg 
leave to inform your Honourable House we have 
waited for better times until our patience is quite 
exhausted, for whilst we wait we die." 

George Jacob Holyoake, who was born in Bir- 
mingham in 1818, gives a vivid picture, in his 
Autobiography, of the condition of the Birmingham 
workers in the early part of the century. His 
mother was the last maker of horn buttons in the 
town, and his father was a skilled worker at the 
Eagle Foundry. " It was always a peculiarity of 
Birmingham that numerous small household trades 
existed, which gave the inmates independence, and 
often led — if tie trade continued good — to com- 
petence or fortune." While still a child, young 
Holyoake went with his father to the foundry, where 
he learned the trade of a whitesmith. He carried on 
his education at the Mechanics' Institution under 
Daniel Wright, till he left Birmingham to start his 
career as an " agitator," soon after his marriage in 
1839. " My first acquaintance with my future wife 
was when she lived in the house of the chief Uni- 
tarian bookseller in Birmingham, James Belcher, 
whose father had been imprisoned in Warwick Gaol 
in Dr. Priestley's days for selling heterodox works, 
political and religious." 

Holyoake gives a depressing account of the 
condition of the working-people at this period. 



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38 BIRMINGHAM 

" Piece-workers and day-workers were so continually 
subjected to reduced prices and wages that they never 
felt certain on Monday morning what they would 
receive on Saturday evening. There were no trade 
intimations where other employment might be 
obtained — no energy in seeking it — there was 
continual resentment, sullenness and disgust, but 
no independence or self-dependence. If a man 
saved a little money, he carefully concealed that he 
had done so : if he could afford to dress cleanly and 
moderately well, he was afraid to do so, as his wages 
were sure to be reduced. 

" The condition of mechanics who worked in 
little workshops of their own was bad. They had 
to sell their small manufactures to merchants. The 
men who lived in the town, and those who came 
miles into it, with the produce of their week's work, 
were kept hanging about the merchants' warehouses 
until nine, ten, or even eleven o'clock on Saturday 
night before they were paid." 

Instead of appealing to violence, the Birmingham 
artisans turned their attention to political agitation. 
A number of them formed the Hampden Club, under 
the presidency of George Edmonds, a schoolmaster 
and solicitor, of whom Holyoake says that of all the 
political leaders of the time in Birmingham he had 
most force of character and was best instructed in 
Liberal principles. The Hampden Club was regarded 
by the authorities with a suspicion which was in- 
creased when the Club organised an open-air meeting 
on Newhall Hilt, at which 30,000 people were 
present The meeting protested against the buying 
and selling of seats in Parliament and against the 
Com Laws, and demanded " such a reform in the 
Commons House of Parliament as will restore 



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THE REFORM ACT 39 

frequent elections and general suffrage." When 
the Regent, in opening Parliament a few days later, 
denounced the proceedings of the Birmingham 
reformers, he was greeted with hisses and groans 
in the streets of London. The suspension of the 
Habeas Corpus Act led to the closing of the Hampden 
Club, and reformers in Birmingham were imprisoned 
for selling copies of the Radical papers, the Bir- 
mingham, Saturday Register and the Inspector. The 
attacks made on the Radicals by some of the clergy 
led to an amusing form of reprisal, a large body of 
workmen marching Sunday after Sunday to Christ 
Church, where they filled the pews to the great 
distress of their proprietors. 

In 1S19 the leading reformers determined to 
elect members to Parliament in spite of the fact that 
Birmingham was unenfranchised, and on the sug- 
gestion of the veteran reformer Major Cartwright, 
Sir Charles Wolseley was elected as "Legislative 
Attorney " for Birmingham at a great Newhall Hill 
meeting, at which 60,000 people are said to have been 
present. The chief movers in this action were at 
once arrested, and George Edmonds was sentenced 
to nine months' imprisonment. Major Cartwright 
to a fine of £100, and several others to various terms 
of imprisonment. Before the trial, a meeting was 
held at Newhall Hill to protest against the " Peterloo 
massacre," at which many thousands of men, most of 
them in mourning, assembled around a platform hung 
with black cloth. 

For some years, the repressive action of the 
Government kept down political agitation in Bir- 
mingham, but in 1828 East Retford was disen- 
franchised for corruption, and a proposal was made 
in Parliament to give the two seats to Birmingham. 



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40 BIRMINGHAM 

The proposal was defeated, but Lord John Russell 
announced his intention of bringing in a Bill in the 
following session for the enfranchisement of Birming- 
ham, Manchester and Leeds. Political interest 
reawakened, and the leadership of the reform party 
in Birmingham now passed into the hands of a 
notable body of men, of whom Thomas Attwood was 
the most conspicuous. He was a banker interested 
in currency problems, and a man of sincere religious 
convictions. Mr. Jaffray tells how, when Attwood 
had determined to found the Political Union, "he 
went down on his knees in the grey of the morning, 
and prayed to Almighty God that if the great 
association he contemplated was not calculated to 
promote the liberty and the happiness of the mass 
of the people it might not prosper." 

With Thomas Attwood were associated Joshua 
Scholefield, afterwards his colleague as member for 
Birmingham, George Frederick Muntz, who, accord- 
ing to Holyoake, was one of the first men in Birming- 
ham to wear a beard, and Thomas Clutton Salt. 
In January, 1830, a meeting was held under the 
presidency of Mr. Muntz, at which Mr. Attwood 
proposed the establishment of a Political Union for 
carrying on the agitation for Parliamentary reform. 
The Union adopted as its motto " Peace, Law and 
Order." The foundation of the Birmingham Political 
Union was followed by the establishment of similar 
Unions in Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and other 
large towns. 

When Lord John Russell's Reform Bill was 
introduced in the House of Commons, in March, 
1831, a great meeting in Birmingham declared for 
" the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." 
The second reading was carried by a majority of 



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THE REFORM ACT 41 

one, and Birmingham was illuminated ; but the Bill 
was defeated in committee, and the king agreed to a 
general election, which resulted in the return of a great 
Reform majority. The Second Reform Bill passed 
the House of Commons in September, 1832, but was 
rejected by the House of Lords, and the country was 
brought to the verge of revolution. The Bui was 
re-introduced in the House of Commons, and the 
second reading was carried in the House of Lords 
by a small maj ority. It was important to strengthen 
the hands of the Ministry, and the greatest Reform 
demonstration ever held in Birmingham met at 
Newhall Hill, when no less than 200,000 people from 
Birmingham and the surrounding districts are said 
to have taken part. The hymn of the Union was 
sung by a hundred thousand voices : — 

" Over mountain, over plain, 

Echoing wide from sea to sea, 
Peals, and shall not peal in vain 

The trumpet call of liberty. 
Britain's guardian spirit cries — 
Britons awake I awake I arise ! " 

The culminating point of the meeting was reached 
when Glutton Salt called on the whole assembled 
crowd to uncover and repeat the pledge : " With 
unbroken faith, through every peril and privation, 
we here devote ourselves and our children to our 
country's cause." 

The Government was defeated on the Committee 
stage in the Upper House, and on the refusal of the 
king to create enough peers to insure the passing of 
the Bill, resigned. The excitement in Birmingham 
was intense. " Every kind of employment appeared 
to be altogether suspended, the streets were crowded 
from morning to night. Placards were exhibited 



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43 BIRMINGHAM 

in the windows, some of which were in these words : 
' No taxes paid here until the Reform Bill is passed.' 
Immense numbers of people to whom political 
agitation was disagreeable now joined the Political 
Union." A petition was drawn up threatening in 
plain terms an appeal to arms, and a deputation was 
sent to carry it to London, When revolution seemed 
almost inevitable, the news arrived that the Duke of 
Wellington had found himself unable to form a 
Ministry, and that Earl Grey had been recalled. 
With a profound sense of relief, the leaders of the 
Political Union set out for London to present an 
address to him. On their return to Birmingham 
they were welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm, 
the entire town turning out to do them honour. 
On June 4th the House of Lords passed the Bill. 

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the 
services rendered to the country throughout this 
crisis by Thomas Attwood and the other leaders of the 
Political Union, who refused to sully their cause by 
appeals to mob violence, and steadily kept the 
controversy on the high level of moral right 

The Reform Act gave two members to Birming- 
ham, and Thomas Attwood and Joshua Scholefield 
were elected without opposition as the first Members 
of Parliament for the town. It was resolved to keep 
the Political Union in existence, and in the spring of 
1833 a visit from Daniel O'Connell afforded an 
opportunity for another Newhall Hill demonstration, 
at which the Ministry was indicted for its Irish policy, 
its refusal to allow vote by ballot, and its main- 
tenance of the Corn Laws. The Political Union 
having now become a definitely party organisation, 
the Conservatives in the town founded the Birming- 
ham Loyal and Constitutional Association, and its 



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THE REFORM ACT 43 

chairman, Mr. Richard Spooner, partner in the Bank 
of Attwood, Spooner & Co., contested the seat un- 
successfully in the 1835 election. 

Some machinery was needed for roping in the new 
voters enfranchised by the Reform Act, and Bir- 
mingham was one of the first towns to form a 
Reformers' Registration Council for this purpose. 
Political controversy was active, and the new Town 
Hall, which was opened in 1834, superseded Newhall 
Hill as a meeting-place for demonstrations by both 
parties. But the high hopes that the Reform Act 
had excited were followed by disillusionment. The 
great body of the workers had not gained a vote, and 
the progress of Reform seemed slow and uncertain. 
The Radical leaders in Birmingham tried to turn this 
vague discontent into constitutional channels by 
founding a new Reform Association, which formu- 
lated its demands for " household suffrage, the 
ballot, triennial Parliaments, payment of members, 
and the abolition of properly qualifications "— 
practically the same programme that (with the 
addition of equal electoral districts) constituted the 
" six points " of the People's Charter, drawn up in 
1838 by six members of Parliament in consultation 
with representatives of the Working-men's Associa- 
tion. In the election of 1837, feeling ran high in 
Birmingham, and a serious riot was only averted by 
the discretion of Colonel Wallace, who sent the 
Worcestershire Yeomanry out of the town. They 
were followed by a great crowd, which pelted them 
with stones and execrations, but the men kept their 
tempers, and though a few citizens were arrested 
and charged with riot at Warwick Assizes, the Crown 
allowed them to be let off on their own recognisances 
to keep the peace. 



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44 BIRMINGHAM 

Those who wished to keep the Chartist movement 
on constitutional lines weie hard put to it to restrain 
the mote turbulent spirits, who, under the leadership 
o! Feargus O'Connor, advocated an appeal to violence. 
O'Connor's Northern Star was the most influential 
of the many newspapers started to advocate 
Chartism. Birmingham was one of the strongholds 
of the movement, and a petition in favour of the 
" six points " received over 94,000 signatures. 
Great meetings were held in the Bull Ring, where 
highly inflammatory language was used, and the 
efforts of the magistrates to prevent them were 
ignored. In July, 1839, a body of London police 
were drafted into the town, to the great indignation 
of the people, and a free fight took place in tie Bull 
Ring, which was only terminated by the arrival 
of the military. Three Chartist leaders, Dr. Taylor, 
Lovett, and Collins, were arrested, and their trial on 
the 15th led to a much more serious disturbance. 
A mob armed with bludgeons and spikes marched 
to the prison and broke the windows. They then 
returned to the Bull Ring and began an attack on 
the shops, which they looted and burnt. At last a 
body of Dragoons was ordered to clear the streets, 
and the rioters were dispersed. Grave fears were 
felt of the renewal of the riots, but a great display 
of armed force cowed the mob, and Birmingham 
gradually renewed its normal activities. A number 
of the rioters were condemned to various periods of 
imprisonment at the Warwick Assizes, and the town 
had to pay over £15,000 compensation for damage. 
The riots of 1839 discredited the Chartist move- 
ment in Birmingham, and the reformers turned their 
attention to the work of the AntkCorn Law League, 
of which a branch was formed in the town in 1841. 



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THE REFORM ACT 45 

Birmingham played a subordinate, but not un- 
important part, in the agitation that resulted in the 
repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. 

Thomas Attwood, who had made less mark in 
Parliament than might have been expected from his 
earlier career, retired from the representation of the 
borough in 1839, and was succeeded by G. F. Muntz, 
who remained member for Birmingham till his death 
in 1857. The son of a Polish emigrant who had 
settled in Birmingham, he had acquired a large 
fortune by the manufacture of an alloy of copper 
and spelter for sheathing ships' bottoms, known as 
" Muntz's Metal." " His burly form, his rough- 
and-ready oratory, his thorough contempt for all 
conventionalities, the heartiness of his objurgations, 
and his earnestness, made him a favourite of the 
people." He proved a somewhat unreliable repre- 
sentative, who claimed the right to go his own way, 
but retained his popularity largely in consequence of 
his association with the earlier political struggles for 
enfranchisement. 



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CHAPTER VII 

MUNICIPAL REFORM 

TILL, the middle of the eighteenth century, 
Birmingham was governed by officers ap- 
pointed in the two Manorial Courts — the Court 
Baron and the Court Leet — while the affairs of the 
ecclesiastical parish, which included the relief of 
the poor and the survey of the highways, were 
under the control of the churchwardens and other 
officials elected by the parochial vestry. The most 
important officers of the manor were the High 
Bailiff, who was generally responsible for the super- 
vision of the markets and trade regulations of the 
town, and the Low Bailiff, who acted as sheriff. 
By a long-standing convention the High Bailiff 
was always a Churchman (and therefore generally 
a Tory), while the Low Bailiff was a Nonconformist 
(and therefore generally a Whig). Birmingham 
gradually outgrew this manorial system, and for lack 
of efficient control, the streets remained unlighted 
and uncared for, while the absence of building 
regulations left every lessee free to encroach on 
the roadway. To remedy these evils an Act of 
Parliament was secured in 1769, known^as the 
" Lamp Act," which set up a body of Commissioners, 
who were authorised to levy a rate for the lighting 
and cleaning of the streets, and for removing certain 
46 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 47 

buildings that obstructed the centre of the town. 
These Commissioners, who filled up vacancies by 
co-option, remained the governing body of the town 
till 1838. From time to time they acquired fresh 
powers, and were responsible for the purchase of 
the market rights from the last Lord of the Manor, 
and for the erection of the Town Hall, built originally 
to meet the needs of the Birmingham Musical 
Festival. The Hall, a noble building in the Classical 
style, with seating accommodation for over three 
thousand people, was completed in 1834. 

One of the first steps taken by Earl Grey's 
Ministry after the passing of the Reform Act was 
the appointment of a Commission to report on 
municipal government, which the confusion of 
conflicting authorities, and the absence of effective 
popular control, had made very inefficient. The 
report was followed by the passing of the Municipal 
Corporations Act, by which the existing incorporated 
boroughs were given a representative Council j and 
power was conferred on the Crown to incorporate 
other towns on the petition of the inhabitants, 
Two years after the passing of the Act, the Birming- 
ham Reform party determined to secure a charter 
for the town, and in spite of a good deal of opposition, 
the petition was granted, and Birmingham, now 
a town of over 150,000 inhabitants, came under 
the government of a Town Council consisting of a 
Mayor, sixteen Aldermen and forty-eight Councillors, 
elected by the thirteen wards into which the borough 
was divided. A Corporation seal was adopted 
bearing the arms of the De Bermingham family, 
with the motto "Forward." The first elections 
took place at the end of the year {1838) and were 
fought on strictly party lines — an evil system which 



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48 BIRMINGHAM 

is still retained in many English boroughs. All 
the seats were won by the Radical candidates, who 
were in consequence able to fill up all the municipal 
offices with their friends. In 1839 Birmingham 
obtained a separate Commission of the Peace, and 
a Court of Quarter Session was established with 
Mr. Davenport Hill, the well-known criminal law 
reformer, as its first Recorder. 

The actual powers of the Town Council were at 
first very limited, since the Town Commissioners, 
and several other bodies, continued to exist, and 
retained their powers and responsibilities. In 1849, 
in a report to the Government, it is stated that 
" there are eight distinct and separate governing 
powers within the Parliamentary borough of Bir- 
mingham, and consequently eight separate sets of 
officers have to be found to do the work which may 
be done by one efficient staff. ' ' By the Improvement 
Act of 1851 all these bodies were absorbed into the 
Town Council, which then, for the first time, became 
the responsible authority for the government of 
the borough. 

But before this stage was reached, the borough 
was involved in difficulties owing to a technical 
illegality in the charter, which was only removed 
by an Act of Parliament in 1842. One result of 
this illegality was that the overseers were unable, 
or at least unwilling, to levy a rate, and the new 
borough could only finance its judicial business by 
borrowing money from the Government. It also 
hampered the Council in the important task of 
creating a local police force. Birmingham bad only 
abodyofnightwatcbmen maintained by the Commis- 
sioners and some parish constables responsible to the 
County Justices. The Chartist riots of 1839 showed 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 49 

the need of a local f ce, and Lord John Russell pro- 
posed that a loan of £10,000 should be granted to 
Birmingham to enable such a force to be organised. 
The proposal was violently opposed by Sir Robert 
Peel, who declared the Birmingham Council to be 
" unfit and unworthy to be entrusted with the 
control of the police force of the town." To pro- 
pitiate the opposition, Russell agreed to place the 
police force under a Chief Commissioner responsible 
to and appointed by the Home Office. This insult 
was bitterly resented by the Council, but it was not 
in a position to resist, and only obtained control 
of its own police force when the Act of 1842 gave 
full legality to the charter. 

Under the provisions of the Public Health Act 
(1848) an inquiry was held into the sanitary con- 
ditions of Birmingham, and the details of the report 
give a somewhat lurid picture of the defects in 
sanitation which then existed. " The borough of 
Birmingham," says the Commissioner, " is not so 
healthy as it may be, on account of unpaved streets, 
confined courts, open middens and cesspools, and 
stagnant ditches." He recommends, among other 
improvements, the closing of burial grounds within 
the borough, a better water supply, the provision 
of parks and pleasure grounds, and a complete 
system of drainage. This report did much to clear 
the way for the Improvement Act which finally 
made the Town Council master of its own 
house. 

The twenty years that followed were years of 
partial stagnation in the municipal life of the borough. 
" The dominant idea of the party in power," says 
Mr. Hiky, " was to spend nothing, and therefore to 
do next to nothing for the improvement of the 



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50 BIRMINGHAM 

town, and a stage was reached at which some of 
the ablest citizens held themselves aloof from the 
Council to such an extent that the Council became, 
according to Mr. Bunce, a byword, and an object 
of aversion and even of contempt." In 1853 the 
borough debt amounted to £300,000 and the rates 
to 3s. gd. in the pound. A determination to keep 
down the rates led to the election to the Council 
of men who lacked the courage and imagination 
needed for the effective leadership of civic life. 
Some improvements were made ; the turnpike 
gates on the boundary of the borough were removed 
to a quarter-of-a-mile outside, £10,000 being paid 
as compensation to the owners ; a new borough 
cemetery was provided ; some street improvements 
were carried through ; and a site was purchased 
for Council offices. But, on the whole, the work 
of the Council was perfunctory and uninspiring. 
" It was the custom in those days for several 
prominent members of the Town Council to meet 
at the ' Woodman,' a well-known tavern in the town, 
to discuss Council business in a kind of informal 
caucus. There was nothing against the house, but 
the habit was, to say the least, undignified." The 
story of Mr. Vince's protest may be read in Mr. 
Dale's Life of his father. 

The best account of the change that came over 
Birmingham municipal life is in Dr. Dale's Life of 
his friend, Dr. Crosskey. 

" Towards the end of the sixties a few Birming- 
ham men made the discovery that perhaps a strong 
and able Town Council might do almost as much 
to improve the conditions of life in the town as 
Parliament itself. I have called it a ' discovery,' 
for it had all the freshness and charm— it created 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 51 

all the enthusiasm — of a discovery. One of its 
first effects was to invest the Council with new 
attractiveness and dignity. Able men and men of 
considerable social position had already discha r ged 
municipal duties, but very many of their colleagues 
were of a very inferior order. It now became the 
ambition of young men and cultivated men, and 
men of high social position, to represent a ward 
and to become aldermen and mayors. The weaker 
and less effective members of the Corporation were 
gradually dropped, and their places filled by men 
of quite a new type. The November ward meetings 
assumed a new character. The speakers, instead 
of discussing small questions of administration and 
economy, dwelt with glowing enthusiasm on what a 
great and progressive town like Birmingham might 
do for its people. They spoke of sweeping away 
streets in which it was not possible to live a healthy 
and decent life ; of making the town cleaner, 
sweeter, and brighter ; of providing gardens and 
parks and music; of erecting baths and free 
libraries, an art gallery and a museum. They 
insisted that great monopolies like the gas and water 
supply should be in the hands of the Corporation ; 
that good water should be supplied without stint 
at the lowest possible prices ; that the profits of 
the gas supply should relieve the pressure of the 
rates. Sometimes an adventurous orator would 
excite his audience by dwelling on the glories of 
Florence and of the other cities of Italy in the 
Middle Ages, and suggest that Birmingham, too, 
might become the home of a noble literature and 
art" 

The earliest leader of this civic renaissance was 
undoubtedly Mr. George Dawson. His career and 



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52 BIRMINGHAM 

character belong to the religious history of Binning- 
ham, but his influence extended to the municipal 
life of the borough. " For many years he had been 
teaching that unless the best and ablest men in a 
community were willing to serve it, new laws could 
not work any great reformation ; and that it was 
the duty of those who derived their prosperity and 
opportunities of culture from the community to 
become its servants." At a later period Dawson's 
efforts were powerfully reinforced by the influence 
of Dr. Dale, who refused to believe in a religion 
that detached itself from civic duty. The Church 
of England remained somewhat isolated from the 
civic life of the time, and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain 
once told the present writer how greatly his personal 
attitude towards the Church would have been 
affected if it had been able to speak the language 
that F. D. Maurice, Bishop Westcott, Dr. Scott 
Holland and many other later leaders have taught 
it to speak to-day. The new movement found a 
leader in Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, and a literary 
champion in Mr. J. Thackray Bunce, the editor of 
the Birmingham Daily Post, which had been started 
by Mr. Feeney and Mr. (afterwards Sir) John 
Jaffray in 1857. Joseph Chamberlain came to 
Birmingham in 1854 from London to join his cousin 
Joseph Nettlefold in a screw-manufacturing business 
in which his father was financially interested. He 
began in the 'sixties to take part in public life, and 
was one of the most prominent members of the 
Birmingham Liberal Association when it was re- 
organised in 1868. In the following year he was 
elected to the Town Council, and began the career 
of public service in local life that has won for him 
the respect and admiration even of those of his 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 53 

fellow-citizens who were the strongest opponents 
of his political opinions. "Mr. Chamberlain gave 
himself to the municipal work with a contagious 
enthusiasm. He did not merely enter the Council, 
give a large amount of time and strength to its 
committees, make striking and eloquent speeches 
on the new municipal policy ; he used his social 
influence to add strength to the movement. He 
appealed in private to men of ability who cared 
nothing for public life, and he showed how much 
they might do for the town if they wonld go into 
the Council ; he insisted that what they were able 
to do, it was their duty to do. He dreamt dreams 
and saw visions of what Birmingham might become, 
and resolved that he, for his part, would do his 
utmost to fulfil them." 

The other side of the story is told by Ostro- 
gorski. After explaining the organisation of the 
Liberal Association, he says : " The Association 
being a Liberal organisation could only invite the 
co-operation of those who belonged to the Liberal 
persuasion. Hence the Conservatives were excluded 
from the public life of Birmingham. It is true that 
they had themselves been clumsy enough to supply 
the Radicals with a pretext for making the local 
administration a party affair. . . . Long after they 
had been reduced to impotence in the Town Council, 
the Liberal Association continued to oppose them 
with the utmost bitterness at the annual municipal 
elections. They were dislodged from every position 
in the local government, from every representative 
body even of an entirely non-political character, 
from charitable institutions, from the governing 
boards of schools. Ignored and thrust out of 
public life, the Conservatives in their turn came to 



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54 BIRMINGHAM 

identify the interests of Birmingham with those of 
the Liberal party, and to regard the former with 
lukewarmness, almost with complete indifference." 

In 1873 Mr. Chamberlain was elected Mayor, 
and at once inaugurated the first of his great muni- 
cipal enterprises by proposing the purchase by the 
Council of the two gas companies that then supplied 
the town. The necessary Act of Parliament was 
secured early in the following year, and the Com- 
panies were bought out for a sum of £58,290 in 
perpetual annuities. A considerable reduction in 
the price of gas was at once effected, and the average 
annual profit since 1875 has been over ,£45,000, 
most of which has gone to the relief of the rates. 

In the following year, having been re-elected 
as Mayor, Mr. Chamberlain proposed to acquire 
the waterworks for the town, and after a good deal 
of opposition in the House of Lords, the necessary 
Act was passed, and the undertaking acquired by 
payment of perpetual annuities of £54,491. The 
first object of the Council was to improve tie water 
supply, and large sums were expended in laying 
new mains and supplying reservoirs and better 
plant. In 1890 the need of fresh sources of supply 
led the Birmingham Council to purchase and dam 
up the Elan valley at Rhayader, in Radnorshire, 
from which water is conveyed nearly eighty miles 
to Birmingham. The scheme, which cost nearly 
£6,000,000, was begun in 1893, and the new works 
were opened by King Edward in 1904. 

As soon as the purchase of the waterworks had 
been carried through, a third great scheme was 
launched, for the clearing of a great slum area in 
the middle of the town, and the construction of a 
new main street leading towards Aston. The area 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 55 

included some of the worst slums in Birmingham, 
and the scale of the proposed improvement was 
calculated to strike the imagination. Parliamentary 
sanction was secured for the project, and a number 
of patriotic citizens joined together to purchase 
any of the property that could be secured at a 
reasonable price while the Bill was still under dis- 
cussion, subsequently selling it at cost price to the 
Corporation. A new thoroughfare, named Corpora- 
tion Street, sixty-six feet wide, was cut through 
the area, and sites were let on building leases of 
seventy-five years. When these fall in, Birmingham 
will become the possessor of a great deal of valuable 
property, the rents of which will go to relieve the 
rates. The Council acquired land for the erection 
of houses for the workpeople dispossessed by the 
destruction of the cleared area. 

A few years ago Birmingham acquired its own 
tramway system, and in 1900 bought out the 
Birmingham Electric Supply Co., and so became 
the owner of its own electric supply, which has since 
been greatly extended. 

In 1888 the town became a county borough 
under the Local Government Act of that year, and 
in 1896 it was raised to the dignity of a city, the 
title of Lord Mayor being shortly afterwards con- 
ferred on its chief magistrate. The " supporters," 
representing Industry and Art, were added to the 
borough arms at this time. 

The boundaries of the borough were extended 
in 1891 to take in Saltley, Harborne and Balsall 
Heath, and eighteen years later the parish of 
Quinton was absorbed. In 1912 a much more 
ambitious scheme was carried out, the boundaries 
of the city being extended several miles out into 



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56 BIRMINGHAM 

the country, absorbing the ancient borough of 
Aston Manor, the urban districts of Erdington and 
Handsworth, and the greater part of King's Norton, 
Northneld and Yardley. This last extension enlarged 
the municipal area from 13,477 acres to 45,537, or 
rather over 68 square miles. It increased the 
population from 525,960 to 840,202, and the rateable 
value from just under £2,000,000 to £4,340,000. 

Birmingham was the first large city to adopt 
the Town Planning Act, and two areas of undeveloped 
land have been " planned " by the Town Planning 
Committee, under the guidance of Mr, J. S. Nettle- 
fold, to whose enthusiasm for housing reform the 
city owes much. 

Two other departments of municipal activity 
remain to be dealt with. The first of these is the 
provision of open spaces. As Birmingham gradually 
extended its building operations into the surrounding 
districts, the need of securing parks and recreation 
grounds became urgent. An Act of 1854 permitted 
the Council to accept gifts of land and provide for 
their maintenance. Within two years a small 
area of ten acres (now Adderley Park), was given 
to the Council by Lord Norton, and over thirty 
acres of land (now Calthorpe Park) were offered at 
a nominal rent by Lord Calthorpe. Attempts were 
made from time to time to secure Aston Hall and 
Park before they fell into the hands of the jerry- 
builder, but questions of price hindered any arrange- 
ment, and in 1858 the Hall and forty acres of 
ground were acquired by a private company for 
use as a place for entertainments and exhibitions. 
The Park was opened by Queen Victoria, but it 
did not prove a financial success, and in the end it 
was purchased by the Corporation, partly by the 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 57 

help of private donations. The Hall is now used 
as a Museum, one room being set aside as a Dr. 
Johnson Memorial. In 1873 a fine estate of forty- 
seven acres was given to the town by Miss Ryland 
of Baiford, and is now known as Cannon Hill 
Park, A few years later Miss Ryland gave another 
Park of forty-three acres at Small Heath (now 
Victoria Park) to the town, and generously con- 
tributed £4000 towards the cost of laying it out. 
Highgate Park and Summerfield Park represent 
open spaces rescued from the builder, and paid for 
out of public funds. Further afield, the generosity 
of various donors has enabled the Corporation to 
acquire the Lickey Hills, a patch of unspoiled 
country lying between Birmingham and Bromsgrove. 
Till 1873 Birmingham was ill equipped with public 
buildings, but in that year steps were taken to 
utilise the site that had long before been purchased 
for Municipal Offices. A design by Mr. Yeoville 
Thomason was accepted, and the " Council House " 
was completed and opened in 1879. A few years 
later Birmingham obtained its own Assizes, and a 
site was reserved in Corporation Street for the Law 
Courts that were now needed. Messrs. Aston Webb 
and Ingress Bell submitted a fine design in red terra- 
cotta, Renaissance Gothic in character, with richly 
decorated interior, and the foundation was laid by 
Queen Victoria in the year of her Jubilee (1887). 
The Victoria Law Courts were opened by the Prince 
of Wales four years later. 

As municipal undertakings, the Public Library 
and Art Gallery belong to this chapter, though their 
natural place would be among the educational 
institutions of the city. The Public Libraries 
Act was adopted in Birmingham in i860, after a 

s 

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58 BIRMINGHAM 

careful inquiry had been made into the results of 
its adoption in Manchester, Liverpool, and other 
places. The Central Library buildings were com- 
pleted in 1865, and branch libraries were established 
in various parts of the town. Much labour was 
expended in gathering together a Reference Library, 
and in the formation of a Shakespeare Memorial 
Library, but disaster befell the collection, which 
was almost completely destroyed in a fire that 
broke out during an enlargement of the building. 
The leading citizens of Birmingham at once sub- 
scribed nearly £14,000 for the renewal of the Library, 
and generous gifts from all quarters attested the 
sympathy of other towns. In 1882 the restored 
Library was reopened with nearly 50,000 books, 
and though some of the treasures lost in the fire 
were irreplaceable, the Shakespeare Memorial Library 
now numbers over 9000 volumes and in several 
other directions — notably in Warwickshire MSS. 
and prints — the Reference Library is richly equipped. 
Every student of Birmingham history owes a debt 
of gratitude to the authorities for the exhaustive 
catalogue of books on Birmingham that has 
been compiled, and for the courtesy with which 
information is afforded to the humblest inquirer. 

Several donations were given to the town for 
the purchase of pictures and works of art, and the 
provision of an Art Gallery became a pressing need. 
As the Corporation had no legal power to spend 
money on this object, the Council overcame the 
difficulty by giving a site behind the Council House 
to the Free Library Committee, which in its turn 
transferred it to the Gas Department on condition 
that an Art Gallery was built above the offices of 
the department. 



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MUNICIPAL REFORM 59 

In 1905 Mr. John Feeney bequeathed a sum of 
£50,000 to the town for the erection of an Art 
Gallery, and this sum has been used to build an 
extension above the Council offices on the other 
side of Edmund Street, connected by a bridge with 
the older building. The treasures of the Gallery 
have been provided entirely by private donations, 
and comprise an unsurpassed collection of the Pre- 
Raphaelite School, including Burne Jones' " Star of 
Bethlehem," and Holman Hunt's " Triumph of the 
Innocents," and several thousand drawings and 
studies by Rossetti, Burne Jones, and Millais ; 
twenty-six paintings by David Cox, bequeathed by 
Mr. Joseph Nettlefold ; an almost unique collection 
of armour presented by the Guardians of the Proof 
House ; a great collection of objects illustrating 
the Italian Renaissance art ; and a fine collection of . 
Oriental art presented by Mr. John Feeney ; besides 
individual treasures too numerous to mention. The 
Birmingham Art Gallery is a standing evidence of 
the desire of those who have prospered in the 
prosperity of the city to share with their fellow- 
citizens the gifts that minister to beauty and 
gladness. 



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CHAPTER VIII 

POUTICAI, LIFE FROM 1850 

THE years that followed the collapse of Chartism 
in 1848 were marked by little political activity. 
A vague desire for further Parliamentary reform 
found expression in Birmingham and elsewhere, 
but increasing trade prosperity, and later the 
excitement of the Crimean War, turned men's atten- 
tion from internal political questions. The election 
of John Bright as member for Birmingham in 1857, 
after his rejection in Manchester owing to bis opposi- 
tion to the war, brought Birmingham again into 
the forefront of the reform movement. John 
Bright remained member for the borough till his 
death in 1889, but was never closely identified with 
the town. " He made the acquaintance of Birming- 
ham men at a time of life when friendship rarely 
ripens into intimacy. His visits were not very 
frequent ; and he never took much interest in local 
affairs." But some of his great speeches were made 
in Birmingham Town Hall, and the democratic 
atmosphere of the town was thoroughly congenial 
to him. In Parliament Bright became the mouth- 
piece of the demand for the extension of the franchise, 
and when the death of Lord Palmerston removed 
the strongest anti-reform influence. Parliament began 
to give serious attention to the subject. Birmingham 



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POLITICAL LIFE FROM 1850 61 

held a great demonstration in support of Mr. Glad- 
stone's Reform Bill of 1866, and a second demonstra- 
tion was held in the following year to demand the 
amendment of Disraeli's BUI. 

In the Reform Act Birmingham was selected as 
one of the boroughs in which an experiment was to 
be made in minority representation, three members 
being allotted to the town, and each elector having 
two votes. The Liberal party in the town was 
determined to retain all three seats, and an important 
reorganisation of the party machinery was carried 
out, the ward committees now becoming elective, 
while they, in their turn, elected the central com- 
mittee. Every Liberal elector was instructed for 
whom to vote, and by a careful distribution of votes 
three Liberals were returned, so leaving the Con- 
servative party still unrepresented. This election 
was the last in which the candidates were publicly 
nominated from the hustings. A large Liberal 
majority was returned, and John Bright rather 
unwillingly accepted office under Mr. Gladstone as 
President of the Board of Trade. 

The next subject to which the Birmingham 
reformers turned their attention was education, 
and in 1867 Mr. George Dixon and Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain took the lead in the formation of the 
Birmingham Education Society, which developed 
into a National Education League, the object of 
which was to secure " the establishment of a system 
which shall secure the education of every child in 
the country." The League stood for free, com- 
pulsory, unsectarian education for all children in 
rate-supported schools maintained by the local 
authorities. Mr. George Dixon, the leader of the 
League, came to Birmingham in 1838, and prospered 



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62 BIRMINGHAM 

in business there. He entered the Council in 1863 
and became mayor three years later. In the follow- 
ing year he was elected M.P. for the borough, and 
retained his seat till 1876, when he retired for a 
few years, resuming his Parliamentary career as 
member for the Edgbaston division from 1885 till 
his death in 1898. Of his work as chairman of the 
Birmingham School Board we shall have more to 
say in a later chapter. 

Mr. Foster's Education Act of 1870 did not 
satisfy the League, which remained in existence for 
some years to advocate compulsory attendance 
(which was secured in 1876) and the abolition of the 
clause which enabled School Boards to pay fees at 
denominational schools. 

On Mr. George Dixon's retirement Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain was elected as the colleague of Philip 
Muntz and John Bright in the representation of 
the borough. During this period Mr. Chamberlain 
was engaged, in co-operation with Mr. Schnadhorst, 
in the organisation of the once-famous Birmingham 
Caucus. The Liberal electors of each ward sent 
three elected representatives, with their chairman 
and secretary, to an executive committee, which 
had the right to co-opt thirty additional members. 
There was also a general committee, consisting of 
this executive committee and thirty representatives 
from each ward, making 594 in all — the famous 
"Six Hundred." Though democratic in theory, 
this constitution proved amenable to management 
from headquarters. The leaders of the party 
" maintained uninterrupted relations with the masses 
by means of public assemblies, informal meetings, 
and personal communications on questions of general 
interest, and thus kept up a current of public spirit," 

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POLITICAL LIFE FROM 1850 63 

The discipline maintained by the Association was 
strict. Its leaders boasted of " armies of disciplined 
men, accustomed to stand side by side and to move 
in unbroken battalions." The " Birmingham plan *' 
— once described by Lord Randolph Churchill as 
" the dark and evil deeds of Mr. Schnadhorst " — 
was copied in many other towns. The next stage 
in organisation was the linking of these representa- 
tive associations into one Federation, and this was 
undertaken by Mr. Schnadhorst in 1877, when a 
meeting was held in Birmingham under Mr. Chamber- 
lain's presidency, and the National Liberal Federation 
was founded. Mr. Gladstone visited Birmingham 
to give bis blessing to the new organisation, the 
principles of which he described, in a later speech, 
as " admirable, sound, just, liberal and popular." 
The later right of the National Liberal Federation 
to secure the control of the policy of the party belongs 
to general political history. 

When Mr. Gladstone was recalled to power in 
1880, John Bright and Joseph Chamberlain were 
both included in his Ministry, the latter accepting 
office as President of the Board of Trade. The 
Franchise Act of 1885 gave seven members to 
Birmingham, the borough being divided into seven 
single-member constituencies, all of which were 
won by Liberals in the general election that followed, 
at which Lord Randolph Chur c hi l l made a courageous 
attack on John Bright's constituency of Central 
Birmingham, polling 4216 votes against 4989 cast 
for his veteran antagonist. Lord Randolph never 
lost his interest in Birmingham, and his last public 
speech was delivered years afterwards in the Town 
Hall. 

The election of 1885 was the last triumph of 

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64 BIRMINGHAM 

an undivided party. Early in the following year 
Mr. Gladstone brought in his Home Rule Bill, and 
a section of the Liberal party, among the leaders 
of which were John Bright and Joseph Chamberlain, 
seceded and formed the Liberal Unionist party. 
In the election that followed, the opponents of 
Mr. Gladstone's policy won all the Birmingham 
seats, Mr. Henry Matthews being returned for the 
Eastern Division as the first Conservative who had 
ever sat for a Birmingham constituency. Whatever 
may have been its result on national affairs, there 
can be no doubt that the break-up of the Liberal 
party was a real misfortune in the local life of 
Birmingham. It sundered into opposing camps 
men who had worked together in close association 
in local affairs, and while the Conservative party 
now secured its legitimate influence in the city, 
many men who would gladly have served it found 
themselves excluded from public life. 

From 1892 the political history of Birmingham 
has been closely identified with the political career 
of Mr. Chamberlain. His appointment as Colonial 
Secretary was welcomed in tiie city, and during the 
South African War attacks on his policy were strongly 
resented, Mr. Lloyd George being obliged on one 
occasion to escape from the Town Hall disguised 
in a policeman's uniform. On a recent visit to 
Birmingham during the late war, he was accorded a 
very different reception. Birmingham supported 
whole-heartedly the proposals for tariff reform with 
which Mr. Chamberlain identified himself after the 
war, and while he lived he exercised undiminished 
influence over the political life of the city. I 
remember very vividly the great meeting in 
the Bingley Hall to celebrate Mr. Chamberlain's 



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POLITICAL LIFE FROM 1850 65 

seventieth birthday, when ten thousand of the 
citizens joined in the enthusiastic chorus : — 



Soon afterwards, a break-down in health obliged 
him to retire from active political life, and his death 
marks the close of a chapter in the life of the city. 
The strength of Mr. Chamberlain's hold over 
Birmingham has been attributed to his control of 
the political machine, and undoubtedly efficient 
organisation has been one of the causes of the success 
of the Unionist party in the city ; but the personal 
ascendency that he was able to exercise was mainly 
the outcome of the services that he had rendered 
in municipal life. He was, as he often said, " among 
his own people " ; and at a recent election, a Bir- 
mingham working-man expressed crudely but truly 
the feeling of the electors of Central Birmingham : 

"Who's O (the alternative candidate)? I'd 

toiler Joe to 'ell ! " 



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CHAPTER IX 

RELIGIOUS LICE IN BIRMINGHAM 

DURING the eighteenth century religion did 
not play a very conspicuous part in the 
public life of Birmingham. Churchmen and Non- 
conformists were learning to live together with some 
degree of mutual toleration, though the leaders on 
both sides were constantly occupied with doctrinal 
and ecclesiastical controversies. The Old and New 
Meeting Houses had no credal basis of membership, 
and when the majority of these congregations ac- 
cepted the Arian view that was prevalent in the 
early part of the eighteenth century, a section of 
the adherents who held to orthodoxy seceded and 
built a little meeting house in Carr's Lane — formerly 
Godde's Cart Lane, so-called from the cart in which 
the sacred elements were carried in procession. 

In 1745 John Wesley paid his first visit to Bir- 
mingham, where he met with the kind of reception 
with which he was painfully familiar, " stones and 
dirt flying from every side for nearly an hour." 
Six years later he eame again, and met with a much 
more friendly reception. " I was obliged," he says 
in bis Journal, " to preach abroad, the room not 
being able to contain half the congregation. O, 
how is the scene changed here 1 Formerly when I 
preached at Birmingham, the stones flew on every 



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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 67 

side. Ii any disturbances were made now, the dis- 
turbers would be in more danger than the preacher." 
Wesley visited Birmingham again in 1764 to preach 
at the opening of the old play-house in Moor Street, 
which tie Wesleyan Methodists had acquired as a 
place of worship, and in 1782 to open the new chapel 
in Cherry Street. On this occasion he attended 
service at St. Martin's Church, his presence affording 
the rector an opportunity for tie vehement de- 
nunciation of lie Methodists as " hare-brained 
itinerant enthusiasts." His last visit was in 1790, 
when he was eighty-eight years of age. Of this 
visit he writes: "1790, March 19, came to Bir- 
mingham. I think the town is thrice as large as 
when I visited it fifty years ago. The behaviour 
of the rich and poor is such as does honour to then- 
profession ; so decent, so serious, so devout, from 
the beginning to the end." He is referring, of 
course, to the congregation to which he preached. 

The Sunday School movement, started by 
Robert Raikes at Gloucester, was soon taken up 
in Birmingham, twelve schools for boys and twelve 
for girls being opened in 1784. The rule that " the 
scholars in each district, with their respective 
teachers, go to Church both morning and afternoon " 
was objected to by the Nonconformists, who asked 
that their children might go to their own places 
of worship. On the refusal of the Committee to 
sanction this arrangement, the Unitarians started 
Sunday Schools of their own, in which they were 
soon after followed by the other Nonconformist 
bodies. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the 
growth of the town necessitated the provision of 
more churches, and Christ Church, to the cost of 



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68 BIRMINGHAM 

which George III. contributed £1000, was opened 
in 1813. A grant from the sum of one million set 
aside by Parliament, for the building of churches 
enabled two more churches — St. George's and Holy 
Trinity, Bordesley — to be built a few years later. 
Architecturally, these churches have some interest 
as marking a departure from the ponderous classical 
style of the eighteenth-century Birmingham churches. 

During the nineteenth century several remark- 
able men served as Nonconformist ministers in 
Birmingham. The first of these was John Angell 
James, who became pastor of the Carr's Lane 
Meeting House in 1805, when only in his twenty- 
first year. He gradually won for himself a leading 
place in the religious life of the town, and in 1820 
the present Carr's Lane Chapel was built, with 
seating accommodation for about two thousand 
people. John Angell James became one of the most 
famous preachers of his time. One of his books — 
The Anxious Enquirer— had. reached a sale of half 
a million before his death. He was a warm sup- 
porter of the London Missionary Society, and was 
one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance, 
and of the Congregational Union. In a fragmentary 
autobiography Mr. James describes himself as " a 
mere plodding, working husbandman, using old 
instruments with some industry, and following old 
methods with a kind of dogged perseverance and 
considerable success." In other words, his success 
was due less to originality or great learning than 
to the pastoral gifts of sympathy and care for souls. 

Mr. James remained pastor of Carr's Lane till 
his death in 1859. By that time several notable 
religious leaders had arisen in Birmingham Non- 
conformist life. Robert Alfred Vaughan is now 



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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 69 

chiefly remembered as the author of Hours with 
the Mystics. He came to the town in 1850 as 
minister of Ebenezer Chapel, but ill health, brought - 
on in part by his over-studious habits, led to his 
resignation in 1855, and his death two years later. 
If he had lived, he might have exercised a valuable 
influence in Birmingham as a scholar and thinker. 

A few years earlier George Dawson, a Londoner 
by birth, came to Birmingham from Rickmans- 
worth, to become minister of Mount Zion Chapel, 
where he soon gathered a large congregation. 
Finding himself unable after a time to accept the 
trinitarian creed contained in the trust-deeds of 
the chapel, Dawson resigned, and the Church of 
the Saviour was built for him in 1847, the conditions 
of membership involving no doctrinal pledge either 
from minister or people. In this church Dawson 
ministered for thirty years, occupying a special 
position of his own in the religious life of the town. 
" He gathered around him men of all types — some 
who were dissatisfied with dogma, though they 
clung to truth ; others, who, finding their spiritual 
energy impoverished by the decay of faith, sought 
still to keep alive religious emotion, and to retain 
the shadow when they had lost the substance. 
Dawson himself, though unconventional to the 
verge of audacity, was less unorthodox than most 
people imagined. He was no theologian, and never 
constructed for himself any definite system of 
belief. . . . But from one position he never shifted : 
his hostility to the Evangelical faith, as it was then 
held by most Churches, was not only bitter, but had 
in it a touch of contempt ; he assailed it with every 
weapon at his command, and kept up the onslaught 
year after year. He was not a -Unitarian ; but in 



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70 BIRMINGHAM 

sympathy and association he stood nearer to the 
Unitarians than to any other Church, and it was 
not unnatural that he should be identified with 
them."* 

Besides his work as a preacher, Dawson became 
well known as a lecturer, and was described as " the 
most famous middleman oi his day," because he 
made it his special business to interpret to the 
people the work of the leaders of modern thought. 
He did much to interest Birmingham people in 
the great movements for freedom that were going 
on abroad, and was a friend of Mazzini, Kossuth 
and Garibaldi. He helped in several unsuccessful 
journalistic ventures, the last of which was the 
Birmingham Morning News in 1871. Of his work 
for municipal reform I have already written. He 
died in 1876. 

Dr. R. W. Dale, who had been Mr. James's 
colleague during the later years of his ministry, 
succeeded him as minister of Carr's Lane. He had 
been trained at Spring Hill College, Birmingham 
(now Mansfield College, Oxford), and was already no 
stranger to the town with which his life was hence- 
forth to be identified. He now set himself to know 
its business and municipal life, and to claim for 
religion its rightful place as the inspiration of civic 
service. " Of all secular affairs," he said on one 
occasion, "politics rightly considered are among 
the most unworldly, inasmuch as the man who is 
devoted to political life ought to be seeking no 
personal or private gain." " I feel," he added, " a 
grave and solemn conviction that in a country like 
this where the public business of the State is the 
private duty of every citizen, those who decline to 
♦ LijtojR, W.Dale, by His Son. 



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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 71 

use their political power are guilty of treachery 
both to God and man." " He was bent on making 
Birmingham a very metropolis of liberty, education, 
and courageous municipal government. The city, 
its possibilities and opportunities, possessed his 
imagination and captured his devotion." 

Br. Dale has been described as a Nonconformist 
High Churchman, but while he believed intensely 
in the Church as a spiritual society, he was the 
sworn enemy of " sacerdotalism," refused to accept 
the title of " Reverend," and declined to wear a 
distinctive costume. As a theologian Dr. Dale's 
special office was the interpretation of Evangelical 
thought in terms of modern life. " In every creed," 
he says, in words that evoked the enthusiastic 
approval of Mr. Ruskiu, " there are two elements — 
the Divine substance and the human form. The 
form must change with the changing thoughts of 
man, and even the substance may come to shine 
with clearer light and to reveal unsuspected glories 
as God and man come nearer together." Dr. Dale 
died in 1895 and was succeeded by the Rev. 
J. H. Jowett, now minister of Westminster Chapel, 
London. 

Closely associated with Dawson and Dale in 
Birmingham life was the Rev. Charles Vince, the 
minister of Ebenezer Chapel, who, with less intel- 
lectual power than Dale, possessed in a special 
degree the power of winning the affection of his 
people. To the same group belongs Dr. Crosskey, 
who was minister of the Church of the Messiah for 
twenty-five years, till his death in 1893, and a 
member of the first Birmingham School Board. 

Dr. Miller, Rector of St. Martin's, was Dale's 
most conspicuous opponent in various ecclesiastical 



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72 BIRMINGHAM 

controversies, and was the recognised leader of the 
Church in the town. Birmingham (except for a few 
parishes in Worcestershire) and North Warwick- 
shire had for centuries belonged to the diocese of 
Lichfield and Coventry, but in 1836 the whole of 
this district was torn from the Lichfield Diocese 
and attached to the Diocese of Worcester. Bir- 
mingham was thus detached from the diocesan 
centre with which it had many close associations, 
and linked on to one with which it had none. The 
Worcester diocesan authorities regarded Birming- 
ham much as a well-bred country squire regards 
an impecunious town-bred relation whose impor- 
tunities he cannot entirely ignore. 

During the century, church-building was carried 
on vigorously, but until recently the churches 
erected were architecturally featureless. A notable 
exception was the beautiful church of St. Alban's, 
Bordesley, designed by Mr. Pearson in the purest 
Early English style — a noble monument to the self- 
denying labours of the Pollock brothers in one of 
the poorest districts of the city. St. Martin's, 
debased by a series of tasteless "restorations," 
was almost completely rebuilt. The tower and spire 
were taken in hand in 1853, and the body of the 
church was rebuilt twenty years later, through the 
efforts of the Rev. Canon Wilkinson, who had 
succeeded Dr. Miller as rector. The necessary 
funds (about ,£32,000) were raised by a voluntary 
rate, and Mr. J. A. Chatwin was appointed as 
architect. The new St. Martin's is a noble building, 
worthy of its place at the heart of a great city. Mr. 
Chatwin was also the architect of the beautiful 
new Parish Church of Aston, where the old church 
had become wholly inadequate for the needs of the 



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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 73 

large population that had grown up around it 
St. Philip's Church was also restored and improved, 
a chancel being added in 1884, and embellished a 
few years later with three splendid stained-glass 
windows designed by Bume-Jones and executed by 
William Morris. A fourth, representing the Last 
Judgment, was added at the west end as a memorial 
to Bishop Bowlby. 

St. Chad's Roman Catholic Cathedral, designed 
by Pugin, was erected in 1841, and consecrated with 
great ceremony by Dr. Wiseman. John Henry 
Newman came to Birmingham in 1847, and lived 
at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, in Edgbaston, for 
forty years. He took no part in local affairs, and 
the only events that stand out in his Birmingham 
life are the publication of his Apologia pro Vita Sua 
in 1864, and his appointment as a cardinal by Leo 
XIII. in 1879. He was buried at Rednal, near the 
Lickey Hills, and his memorial tablet in the Oratory 
bears the simple inscription, chosen by himself, 
" Ex Unibris et Imagimbus in Veritatem." 

Three famous Church leaders — Brook Foss 
Westcott, Joseph Barber Lightfoot, and Edward 
White Benson — were educated at King Edward's 
School under Dr. Prince Lee, who afterwards became 
the first Bishop of Manchester. Westcott and 
Benson were both born of Birmingham parents, but 
neither maintained any close connexion with the 
town after their school days were over. Speaking, 
long afterwards, of the influence of Birmingham on 
his early life, Dr. Westcott said, " Those were 
stirring years. We who passed through them felt 
that the old order was changing, and that a revo- 
lution was going on about us, the issue of which 
could not be foreseen . . , political, economic. 



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74 BIRMINGHAM 

social, religious changes came in quick succession, 
and, looking forward already to the work of a priest 
and teacher, I watched them with the keenest 
interest." 

In 1837 the patronage of St. Martin's, and of 
three other churches, was acquired by a body of 
Trustees, the condition of the trust being that the 
Trustees and their appointees should be " zealously 
attached to the great principles of the reformed 
Faith contained in the Articles, Homilies and 
Liturgy of the Established Church, and particularly 
to the Doctrine of Justification by Faith only, as 
set forth in the nth Article, and in the Homily 
therein mentioned." The creation of daughter- 
parishes out of the ancient parish of St. Martin's 
has given to the St. Martin's Trustees the patronage 
of a large number of churches in the city, and by an 
Act passed about twenty years ago, they have 
power to use the surplus revenues of St. Martin's, 
which are considerable, in making grants to these 
daughter-churches. There is no other large town 
in England in which a body of Trustees exercises 
so controlling an influence over the ecclesiastical 
life of the community. 

The first attempt to create a Bishopric of Bir- 
mingham was made by Dr. Philpott shortly before 
his retirement from the Bishopric of Worcester in 
1890. For various reasons, the scheme fell through, 
and his successor (Dr. Perowne) made an effort to 
meet the situation by appointing the Rev. H. B. 
Bowlby, Rector of St. Philip's, as Bishop-Suffragan 
of Coventry, with special supervision of the War- 
wickshire part of the diocese. On his death, in 
1894, he was succeeded as Rector and Bishop- 
Suffragan by Dr. Knox (now Bishop of Manchester), 

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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 75 

who proved himself a sturdy champion of the cause 
of religious education. 

When Dr. Gore was appointed as Bishop of 
Worcester, he at once threw himself energetically 
into the task of reviving and carrying through the 
Birmingham Bishopric scheme. The necessary funds 
were raised, an Act establishing the Bishopric was, 
after tedious delay, passed by Parliament, and 
Dr. Gore, to the great satisfaction of Birmingham, 
became tie first Bishop. Under his leadership, the 
Church life of the new diocese developed rapidly. 
St. Philip's became the cathedral, St. Martin's 
remaining the civic church of the city. Among the 
Bishop's chief helpers were Canon Owen (now 
Dean of Ripon) and Dr. Burrows (now Bishop of 
Chichester), who served as Archdeacons ; and Canon 
Carnegie (now Sub-Dean of Westminster), who suc- 
ceeded Dr. Knox as Rector of the Cathedral Church. 
Dr. Diggle (now Bishop of Carlisle), Dr. Denton 
Thompson (now Bishop of Sodor and Man), and 
Canon Willink (now Dean of Norwich) were suc- 
cessively Rectors of St. Martin's. 

After six years in Birmingham, Dr. Gore was 
translated to Oxford, and was succeeded as Bishop 
of Birmingham by Dr. Henry Russell Wakefield. 

Birmingham is closely associated with the Adult 
School movement, some account of which, as it lies 
on the border-line between religion and education 
(if, indeed, they can ever be dissociated), may fitly 
close this chapter. The Adult School movement 
has been the special department of social service 
to which the Society of Friends in Birmingham has 
devoted its energies. The founder of the Birming- 
ham Adult Schools was Joseph Sturge, the eldest 
of three brothers well known in the town. He came 

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y6 BIRMINGHAM 

across a school for adults, which had been founded 
in Nottingham by Samuel Fox and William Single- 
ton, and persuaded some of the younger Quakers in 
Birmingham to take up the work there. The first 
women's school was opened in 1848, and in the 
same year William White came to the town, and at 
once threw himself into the work. " When he 
began there were probably not more than five 
hundred members, soon after his death the numbers 
were estimated at fifty thousand." The Severn 
Street Adult School grew, and fresh schools were 
opened, some in converted public-houses. The first 
Superintendent was Joseph Clark, who has told how 
Joseph Sturge addressed him on his appointment, 
" Joseph, if thou thinks thou can't do any good, 
perhaps thou may'st get some." Richard Cadbury, 
like his brother, was a generous supporter of the 
work, and his house, "Uffculme," has been given 
by his son as a hostel for the movement. It was 
Mr. William White's experience as an Adult School 
teacher that made him so effective a chairman of 
the Improvement Committee that carried through 
the great clearance of the slums in 1876. Mr. 
George Cadbury's Garden Suburb at Bournville was 
also the outcome of his experiences of the life lived 
by Birmingham men and women in the crowded 
and ill-ventilated courts where sunlight could hardly 
penetrate and green things had no room to grow. 
As the movement has developed, its frontiers have 
been extended in many directions, till it has become 
an organised Christian brotherhood, made up of 
self-governing societies of men and women whose 
bond of union is expressed in one of the hymns 
that I often used to hear sung at the Adult School 
meetings that I attended — 

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RELIGIOUS LIFE IN BIRMINGHAM 77 

" God send us men, whose aim 'twill be. 
Not to defend some worn-out creed. 
But to live out the laws of Christ, 
In every thought and word and deed" 

To help the work of the Adult Schools, " Wood- 
brooke," a large house on the outskirts of Birming- 
ham, has been set apart as a kind of training college 
for Bible Class leaders. More recently, Mr. George 
Cadbury, Junior, has opened a settlement at " Fir- 
croft," in the same neighbourhood, where working 
men can go into residence for short periods of study 
and friendly intercourse with one another. 



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CHAPTER X 

EDUCATION 

THERE is a saying in Denmark that an 
imposing building in England will be a 
factory ; in Germany, a barrack ; in Denmark, a 
school. The last thirty years has done much to 
wipe away this reproach, and a visitor to Birming- 
ham to-day will find some of the most imposing 
buildings in the city devoted to educational work. 

The oldest educational institution in Birmingham 
is King Edward's School, founded and endowed with 
the estates, then yielding £31 a year, restored to the 
town by Edward VI. " There is and shall be," so 
reads the charter, " one grammar school in Brymy- 
cham, which shall be called the Free Grammar 
School of King Edward the Sixth, for the education, 
institution, and instruction of boys and youths in 
grammar, perpetually, for all future times to con- 
tinue." There was to be one pedagogue, one sub- 
pedagogue or usher, and a body of twenty governors. 
The school met in the old Town Hall in New Street 
till a new building of red brick was erected in 1707, 
to be in its turn superseded by the present building, 
which was built in 1830 from designs by Mr. Barry, 
the well-known architect of the Houses of Parliament. 

There is little to say about the school till the 

beginning of the nineteenth century, when the value 

of its property had risen to about £2,000 a year, 

while the growth of population provided an adequate 

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EDUCATION 79 

supply of scholars. It was said of Dr. Jeune, who 
became headmaster in 1S31, that " he found the 
worst school in England and left it one of the best." 
The new era begins with the passing of an Act of 
Parliament in 1830, giving fresh powers to the 
governors, and from that time the school began to 
prosper. Prince I>e, Gifford and Vardy were all, 
in their way, great headmasters, and the increasing 
revenue of the school enabled it to secure an efficient 
staff. " Within ten years this almost unknown 
provincial grammar school sent to Cambridge six 
Senior Classics, an achievement in that field of 
learning unrivalled, and indeed hardly approached 
by any public school before or since." It is inter- 
esting to remember that two of the last four Senior 
Wranglers, before the recent abolition of that office, 
came from King Edward's School. The last im- 
portant change in the organisation of the school 
took place in 1883, when the system of co-opted 
governors gave place to a Board nominated by the 
Town Council, the Universities, and other bodies. 
At the same time the branch schools became 
Secondary or Grammar Schools, linked by a scholar- 
ship system with the High School in New Street. 
Some years later the girls' department, which had 
shared the boys' school, was provided with a building 
of its own on an adjoining site. 

The Birmingham and Midland Institute repre- 
sents the last of a series of attempts to establish an 
evening educational centre for adults. Birmingham 
had in succession its Mechanics' Institute, its 
AthenEeum, and its Polytechnic, but they all 
withered before they were grown up. Proposals 
were mooted from time to time for a Literary and 
Scientific Institution, and an offer by Charles 



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80 BIRMINGHAM 

Dickens, who visited the town in 1852, to read his 
" Christinas Carol " in the Town Hall as a means of 
helping to raise funds for the scheme, led to its 
being taken up by a number of public-spirited 
men. A site was given by the town authorities 
just opposite the Town Hall, and the Prince Consort 
visited Birmingham to lay the foundation stone. 
The older part of the present building was designed 
by Mr. Barry ; a new building was added in 1881, 
designed by John Henry Chamberlain, a well-known 
local architect, who was hon. secretary of the 
Institute for eighteen years, and died immediately 
after delivering a lecture there. He was succeeded 
by Alderman Martineau, who on his death be- 
queathed a large sum for the maintenance of the 
work. The Institute claims to have been the 
mother of the School of Art and the Technical 
School — both now municipal undertakings — and it 
carries on a very successful School of Music under 
Professor Granville Bantock, and a great variety 
of other classes and lectures. 

The history of elementary education in Bir- 
mingham practically begins with the election of the 
first School Board in 1870, though the Church of 
England had built a good many schools in the 
earlier part of the century. It was ascertained that 
accommodation was needed for 22,000 of the 59,000 
children of school age in the town, and the Board 
began to build schools to meet this demand. In 
1871 bye-laws were made fixing the age of com- 
pulsion from five to thirteen. To tell in detail the 
story of the work of the Birmingham School Board, 
of which Mr. George Dixon was chairman for many 
years, would involve too much space. Generally 
speaking, it may be said that Birmingham has 



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EDUCATION 81 

developed an efficient system of elementary educa- 
tion, and has linked up these elementary schools 
with a sound secondary school system, leading up 
to the University as its apex. 

The history of the University of Birmingham 
begins with the foundation, by Mr. Sands Cox, of 
the Birmingham Medical School, which was incor- 
porated in 1826. Ten years later Dr. Warneford 
became interested in the school, which he con- 
templated developing into a Church of England 
College for Arts, Medicine and Theology. He gave 
large sums to the building of Queen's College and 
of Queen's Hospital. At Queen's College there 
were chairs in Law and Arts as well as in Theology 
and Medicine. Queen's might have developed into 
a University College, and so ultimately into a 
University, but for two difficulties. The first of 
these was the " lack of pence, that vexes public 
men," and the other the exclusively Church of 
England character of its constitution. In 1867 
Queen's absorbed a rival medical school that had 
been carried on at the General Hospital under the 
name of Sydenham College ; and finally, in 1892, 
the medical department migrated to Mason College, 
and Queen's was left as a Theological College. The 
present writer held the Wardenship of the College 
for several years in conjunction with the Chair of 
History in the University. His hope was to asso- 
ciate the College in some way with a faculty of 
theology at the University, but difficulties of 
finance, and the unsuitability of the College, 
situated in the heart of the city, for residential 
purposes, rendered the scheme impossible ; and the 
work of the College is now suspended while the cost 
incurred by rebuilding is being paid off. 



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82 BIRMINGHAM 

What Queen's College failed to do was achieved 
by Mason College. Sir Josiah Mason, whose in- 
dustrial career will be told in a later chapter, used 
his wealth for noble purposes. His first great gift 
was the Erdingtott Orphanage, which he endowed 
with £200,000 worth of land. He offered a similar 
sum for the establishment of a College to be built 
in the centre of the town, and provide a liberal 
education without theological tests or restrictions 
of sex or class. In a memorandum drawn up in 
1875. when the foundation stone of the College 
was laid, Josiah Mason explained what he hoped 
the new College would be. " The scheme of the 
College is a large one, and I have sought to make it 
as liberal as possible in the character and extent 
of its teaching, the scheme of management, and 
the mode and terms of admission. The trustees 
are authorised, and indeed enjoined, to revise the 
scheme of instruction from time to time, so as to 
adapt it to the requirements of the district in future 
years, as well as at the present time. I have great, 
and I believe well-founded, hope for the future of 
this foundation. I look forward to its class-rooms 
and lecture-halls being filled with a succession of 
earnest and intelligent students, willing not only to 
learn all that can be taught, but in their turn to 
communicate their knowledge to others, and to 
apply it to useful purposes for the benefit of the 
community. It is in this expectation that I have 
done my part, thankful to God that He has given 
me the means and the will to do it ; hoping that 
from this place many original and beneficent dis- 
coveries may proceed ; trusting that I, who have 
never been blessed with children of my own, may 
yet in these students leave behind me an intelligent, 



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EDUCATION 83 

truth-loving and truth-seeking progeny for genera- 
tions to come." 

Great trouble was taken by Mr. Cossins, the 
architect, to make the building suitable for its 
purpose, and the rounder visited the building 
almost daily, inspecting every detail and giving 
from time to time most valuable help in the way 
of suggestion. A Day Training College was asso- 
ciated with the College in 1895, and in the following 
year it was incorporated as a University College, 
with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain as President, Dr. 
Heath as Principal, and Alderman Clayton as 
Chairman of the Council. But the College could 
only train its students for London University 
degrees, and a movement began for converting it 
into a University. The three northern Colleges — 
at Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds — had become 
the federal Victoria University, but no civic 
University had yet been created in England. 
Largely owing to Mr. Chamberlain's efforts, a sum 
of over a quarter of a million was raised, Mr. 
Carnegie and Sir Charles Holcroft contributing 
£50,000 each, and a Royal Charter was secured in 
1900, constituting a University of Birmingham, 
of which Sir Oliver Lodge was appointed as the 
first Principal. One of the earliest steps taken by 
the new University was the establishment of a 
faculty of Commerce, under Professor (now Sir 
William) Ashley, and other chairs were added. 
One result of the establishment of Birmingham 
University was that the northern federal University 
broke up, and the Colleges of Manchester, Liverpool 
and Leeds obtained charters giving them University 
rank. Since then Sheffield and Bristol have also 
secured local Universities of their own. 



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84 BIRMINGHAM 

It soon became evident that the College buildings 
were inadequate foi the technical departments 
of the University — Engineering, Metallurgy and 
Mining — and Lord Calthorpe having given a site of 
forty acres on what was then the edge of the city, 
a large sum was raised for the creation and equip- 
ment of new buildings there. These University 
buildings, as yet only partly completed, were de- 
signed by Sir Aston Webb, and will form a semi- 
circle of seven blocks with a diameter of classrooms. 
A central tower 325 feet high was erected at the 
expense of a private donor to commemorate the 
services of the first Chancellor. One interesting 
feature is a model coal mine in the grounds, where 
surveying, mine-ventilation and other practical 
subjects can be taught. The new buildings were 
opened by King Edward in 1909. A residential 
hall for women has been erected near these new 
buildings; during the war this became a nurses' 
home, the University buildings being taken over as 
a hospital by the military authorities. 

The University is supported by grants from the 
Exchequer, and from the Birmingham City Council 
and the County Councils of the neighbouring 
counties. The leading business men of the city 
have given generous support, several of them 
serving on the Council ; and before the war the 
number of students had risen to over a thousand. 
The University gains from its close association with 
the realities of the life of a great industrial com- 
munity, while the intellectual activities of Bir- 
mingham have been greatly stimulated by the 
establishment of a great educational centre in the 
heart of the city. 



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CHAPTER XI 

INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS 

THE geographical situation of Birmingham, in 
the centre of England, with no navigable river, 
made the problem of communications very important, 
and it was appropriate that the town of Boulton and 
Watt should be in the forefront in the development 
of railways. As soon as the short lines from Stockton 
to Darlington and from Liverpool to Manchester had 
shown the practicability of the new method of loco- 
motion, proposals began to be mooted for railways 
from Birmingham to London and to Liverpool. 
The " Grand Junction Railway " to Liverpool was 
completed first, and opened in 1837, with great local 
rejoicings, the first train completing the journey 
(97 miles) in three hours and seventeen minutes. 
The Bill authorising the London line was rejected 
by the House of Lords in 1832, but was passed in the 
following year, the landowning interest having — 
it is said — been propitiated by trebling the price to 
be paid for the land required. The line was com- 
pleted in three years by Messrs. George and Robert 
Stephenson. 

It was on the London and Birmingham and its 
connecting lines that luggage vans were introduced, 
the practice up to that time having been to carry 
passengers' luggage on the tops of the carriages. It 
was on this route also that another important 
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86 BIRMINGHAM 

innovation was made, the first travelling Post Office 
van running between London and Birmingham. 

Railways to Derby and Gloucester were imme- 
diately taken in hand, the latter line being soon after 
extended to Bristol. Then the Great Western 
Railway Company employed Brunei to construct 
lines, on what was then the broad gauge system, 
from Birmingham to Wolverhampton and to Oxford, 
so providing a new link between the Midlands and 
London. 

The Birmingham terminus was temporarily 
placed in what was then the outskirts of the town, 
but before long the L. & N. W. R. began to clear a 
slum area south of New Street for the construction 
of a central station, which the Midland Railway was 
allowed to share. In recent years, a great scheme of 
reconstruction has transformed the Great Western 
Station on Snow Hill into one of the finest stations 
on the company's system. 

A great variety of industries found their home in 
Birmingham during the nineteenth century. The 
development of steel-pen making is connected with 
the names of two remarkable men. The first of 
these was Josiah Mason, whose educational endow- 
ments have already been described. As a lad he 
earned a precarious living by selling cakes in the 
streets of Kidderminster. At the age of twenty he 
came to Birmingham, and for ten years had a hard 
struggle to live. ' ' At thirty years of age, ' ' he writes, 
in a short autobiographical sketch, " with twenty 
pounds of savings as my whole fortune, I was brought 
into association with one of the most honourable, 
industrious, and ingenious of men, Mr. Samuel 
Harrison, the inventor of split rings, whom I served 
for a time, and to whose business on his retirement 

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SIR JOSIAH MASON 



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INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS 87 

I succeeded. . 1 ■ to this business I afterwards added 
the trade of steel-pen making, which I have now 
(1870) followed for more than forty-seven years, 
first as the maker of the well-known Perryian pens, 
and later in my own name, until I have developed 
the works into the largest pen factory in the world. 
. . . This business and that of split-ring making were 
my sole occupations until 1840, when accident 
brought me in close relations with my late valued 
friend and partner, Mr. G. R. Elkington, who was 
then applying the great discovery of electro- 
deposition ; and through my association with him in 
this undertaking I may claim a share in the creation 
of a form of scientific industry which has so largely 
enriched the town of Birmingham and increased its 
fame throughout the world." 

The first metal pen was made by Mr. Harrison 
for Dr. Priestley, in 1790, and in 1829 Mr. Mason 
bought one of Perry's steel pens from a Birmingham 
bookseller, and the same evening sent specimens 
of an improved pen to the makers, so inaugurating 
a partnership that lasted many years. 

Joseph Gillott, who had come to Birmingham 
from Sheffield to make steel buckles, was introduced 
to the pen-making industry by his marriage with the 
sister of John and William Mitchell, on whose 
methods he improved by the use of a press. " With 
his own hands, in a garret of his house, he secretly 
worked until he had succeeded in making pens of a 
far better quality than had yet been made. His 
process was one in which, unassisted, he could 
produce as many pens as twenty pairs of hands, 
working under the old system, could turn out. 
There was an enormous demand for his goods, and 
as he wanted help, and secrecy seemed needful, 

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88 BIRMINGHAM 

the young people married, and Mr. Gillott used to 
tell how, on the very morning of his marriage, he, 
before going to the church, made with his own hands 
a gross of pens, and sold them at a shilling each, 
realising thereby a sum of £7 4s. 

Mr. Edwards tells how Mr. Gillott opened 
accounts at several banks, so that the knowledge of 
his large profits might not tempt competitors into 
the industry, and even buried money in the cellar 
of his house. He afterwards built, in Graham 
Street, the first factory on the modern scale erected 
in the town. Birmingham has remained ever since 
the home of the steel pen industry, which now pro- 
duces about 100,000 varieties of pen, and has reached 
an output of over 200,000 gross per week. 

The new method of electro-plating, already 
referred to, was discovered in 1840, partly by a 
Birmingham surgeon, John Wright. Messrs. George 
and Henry Elkrngton have ever since carried on 
electro-plating in their works in Newhall Hill. 

Among other industries introduced into Birming- 
ham during this period were the manufacture of art 
metal work and stained glass, for which John 
Hardman's works became famous ; mechanical 
engineering, which has developed so rapidly since 
1865 that " it is now possible, without arousing the 
protest of other centres of industry, to regard 
Birmingham as the home of mechanical engineer- 
ing " ; and electric engineering, which, though only 
recently introduced, has become one of the staple 
industries of the city. Birmingham also manu- 
factures a great deal of railway rolling stock, and is 
only second to Coventry as a centre of the cycle 
and motor industry. The substitution of metal for 
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INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS 89 

industry in Birmingham, fifty of the sixty firms 
engaged in metal bedstead pairing being situated in 
the district. 

The jewellery trade also finds its centre in the 
city. " More people are employed in the manu- 
facture of jewellery and gold and silver wares, and 
in the trades allied to and depending upon them, in 
Birmingham than in any other city in the world. 
There are upwards of one thousand separate firms 
directly occupied in the manufacture of gold, silver, 
and plated goods, and in addition to these there are 
all the kindred trades, such as die sinkers, stampers, 
setters, gilders, engravers, and many other branches 
which are largely carried on as separate businesses. 
It is estimated that the number of workers directly 
dependent for their livelihood on these trades is 
somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000." * 

For many years the Birmingham Jewellers' and 
Silversmiths' Association has co-operated with the 
city in maintaining and managing a first-class 
jewellery school situated in the midst of the work- 
shops, where youths and girls receive training. 

Of the many " captains of industry " who have 
helped to develop the industrial life of Birmingham 
it is only possible to mention a few. Sir James 
Timmins Chance devoted himself to the improvement 
of the optical apparatus used in lighthouses, on which 
he became the leading English authority. Chance 
Brothers and Co. are still the only English firm to 
manufacture lighthouse glass. Sir James Chance 
was a generous benefactor to the city, to which he 
gave West Smethwick Park, at a cost of £30,000. 
He also contributed £50,000 towards the endowment 
of the School of Engineering at the University. 

• Gi Henry Wright, in British Association Handbook, 1913. 
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90 BIRMINGHAM 

Sir Richard Tangye came to Birmingham from 
Cornwall, and started a small engineering business 
with his brothers. The firm first came into promi- 
nence in connexion with the launching of the Great 
Eastern in 1858, which was only achieved by means 
of hydraulic jacks invented by the Tangye brothers. 
Sir Richard Tangye used to say, " Tangyes floated 
the Great Eastern, and the Great Eastern floated 
them." Tangye's works now cover thirty acres, 
and engines of every kind are made there. Sir 
Arthur Keen began his career as an employe of the 
L. & N. W. Railway at Crewe. Having acquired an 
American patent, he founded the Patent Nut and 
Bolt Company, which, by amalgamation with the 
Dowlais Steel Works, became Guest, Keen & Co. 
A little later, an amalgamation was effected with 
the firm of screw manufacturers with which Mr. 
Joseph Chamberlain was connected, and Guest, 
Keen and Nettlefolds have a practical monopoly of 
the screw industry in this country. Ralph Heaton 
& Co., now The Mint, Limited, Birmingham, has done 
coming work for nearly every country in the world. 
Mr. Alfred Morcom, who gave up a position in the 
Navy to j oin the firm of Belliss and Morcom, was the 
inventor of a type of quick-revolution engine that 
has practically superseded all others for certain 
purposes. Among other large undertakings in the 
city are the General Electric Company's works at 
Witton ; the great explosives factory of Kynoch's, 
founded by Mr. George Kynoch nearly seventy 
years ago ; and the Birmingham Small Arms 
Company — the " B.S.A." — which has recently joined 
forces with the Daimler Company of Coventry; 
while the motor industry is represented by the 
Wolseley, Austin and Manchester Companies, besides 



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INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS 91 

others. The firm of Cadbuiy Brothers is well 
known foi the efforts that it has made to provide the 
best conditions of work for the workpeople employed 
in the great cocoa factory at Bournville. 

Though far from the sea, Birmingham makes 
nine-tenths of the cabin furniture used by the 
shipping of the world ; hundreds of thousands of 
silver watch cases are turned out in the city, the 
largest watch case factory on this side of the Atlantic 
being situated in the jewellery quarter ; and the city 
supplied three-fourths of the fifty millions pins that 
are produced per day in the United Kingdom. 

To enumerate all the articles manufactured in 
and around Birmingham would require several 
pages. " There are few commodities, with the 
exception of cottons, woollens, and silks, which the 
factories and workshops of Birmingham and district 
cannot supply." Owing to the variety, in character 
and scale, of the industries carried on in the city, 
employers and workpeople do not tend to fall into 
two clearly marked groups, and the relations between 
them are, on the whole, more friendly than in some 
other centres of industry. For the same reason, 
periods of national trade depression are less acutely 
felt than in other places. Whether amalgamations 
and the pressure of competition will result in the 
gradual disappearance of the small-scale producer, 
only the future can determine ; but there is no doubt 
that any such change, if it came, would involve the 
sacrifice of one of the most attractive features of 
Birmingham industrial life. 



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CHAPTER XU 

UTERARY AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATIONS 

BIRMINGHAM has risen to greatness too 
recently and too rapidly to have gathered 
around it many literary associations. It is pleasant 
to think that Shakespeare may have visited the 
town, and taken note of the uncouth humour of the 
" hard-handed men that work in Athens here " ; 
but of this we have no record. The earliest literary 
leader whose life is associated with the town is 
Dr. Johnson, whose father used to come over from 
Lichfield on market days to set up a bookstall in 
Birmingham. Samuel Johnson often walked over 
to Birmingham from Oxford to visit an old school 
friend, Edmund Hector, a surgeon in the town ; and 
after his unsuccessful attempt to earn his living 
as an usher, he accepted an invitation to stay with 
Hector, who lodged with one Thomas "Warren, a 
bookseller, in High Street. The outcome of this 
visit was a proposal by Warren that Johnson should 
translate for him an account by a Portuguese Jesuit, 
Lobo of a Voyage to Abyssinia, and some Disserta- 
tions by Le Grand, for which he offered a sum of 
/s. Not without some difficulty, due to Dr. 
Johnson's " constitutional indolence," the book was 
finished and published in 1735- *>r. Johnson also 
contributed what Boswell calls a " periodical essay '! 

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LITERARY AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATIONS 93 

to Warren's short-lived paper, The Birmingham 
Journal. In 1735 he married Mrs. Porter, the widow 
of a Birmingham mercer, who at the time of their 
marriage was forty -six years of age, while the bride- 
groom was twenty years younger. They were 
married at Derby, and Mrs. Johnson's small fortune 
of £800 enabled her husband to set up a kind of 
coaching establishment for young gentlemen near 
Lichfield, the failure of which led him to accompany 
one of his pupils, David Garrick, to London two 
years later. Johnson afterwards told Boswell that 
" it was a love match on both sides," and her death, 
in 1752, caused him deep and genuine grief. In his 
later years, Dr. Johnson often visited Hector in his 
house in Old Square. In 1776 he came with 
Boswell, when they were entertained by Mr. Sampson 
Lloyd, to whom Dr. Johnson discoursed " in by no 
means a gentle manner " on the error of the Quaker 
disregard for the ordinance of baptism. Boswell 
was shown over the Soho factory by Boulton, whom 
he quotes as saying " I sell here, sir, what all the 
world desires to have — Powbr." Next day Johnson 
drove to Lichfield, remarking, when Boswell charged 
the inhabitants with being an idle body of people, 
' ' Sir, we are a city of philosophers ; we work with 
our heads, and make the boobies of Birmingham 
work for us with their hands." Johnson's last visit 
to Birmingham took place in August, 1784, within a 
few months of his death. 

A man of some note in the social life of Birming- 
ham in the eighteenth century was John Freeth, 
who succeeded his father as host of the Leicester 
Arms, known to its friends as " Freeth 's Coffee 
House " and to its enemies as the " Jacobin Club." 
John Freeth had a certain facility for verse-writing, 



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94 BIRMINGHAM 

and a good singing voice, and it was his habit to 
compose songs on local matters, which he sang for 
the amusement of his patrons at the Leicester Aims. 
He published several collections of these occasional 
verses, including one — The Political Songster- 
limited by Baskerville. 

William Hutton was a much more considerable 
tigure in the Birmingham of this period. Hutton's 
first visit to Birmingham was as a runaway apprentice 
from Nottingham. He only stayed a few days, but 
ten years later (1750) he started business as a book- 
seller in High Street. He claims to have been the 
first to open a circulating library in the town, and 
the first to start a regular paper warehouse. The 
Rev. J. Angel James describes him as a man " who 
exercised whatever religion he possessed by attending 
many years the public worship at Carr's Lane. He 
was in every way an extraordinary man, if we 
except piety and benevolence. He had raised him- 
self, by his own sagacity, industry, perseverance, 
sobriety, and economy, from poverty to affluence. 
He came to Birmingham a poor boy, and he died a 
country gentleman, in a mansion which he had 
built for himself. He was the author of several 
works which manifest great powers of observation, 
and no inconsiderable tact at narration. He was 
fond of humour, punning, and attempts at wit, as 
is evident from all he wrote. But he was cold, hard 
and somewhat penurious." 

Hutton's earliest literary work was his History of 
Birmingham, published in 1782 — a sketch of the 
town and its industries written in a witty and 
conversational style.* He followed this up with a 
n incident that 



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LITERARY AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATIONS 95 

History of Derby, his native town ; and in subsequent 
years produced several volumes descriptive of 
journeys in various parts of the country. Just after 
his death, in 1815, his autobiography was published, 
containing many interesting sidelights on Birming- 
ham life, and especially on the riots of 1791, from 
which Hutton had suffered severely. William 
Hutton's daughter Catherine, was a spritely and 
interesting letter-writer, and some of her corre- 
spondence has been published by Mrs. Beale, under 
the title of Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the 
Last Century. 

S. T. Coleridge and Charles Lamb have a slight 
association with Birmingham life through their 
friendship with Charles Lloyd, son of the banker, 
who, as the outcome of a visit of Coleridge to Bir- 
mingham, went to stay with him as a " paving guest ' ' 
in Bristol. While there he met Charles Lamb, with 
whom he collaborated in a little volume of Blank 
Verse, and who remained a close friend after an 
estrangement had separated him from Coleridge. 
Charles Lloyd published two other volumes of 
poetry, Nuga Canonm and Desultory Thoughts in 
London, and a long and not very successful novel. 



" Malone once found Dr. Johnson sitting in his room roasting 
apples and reading a history of Birmingham. This staggered 
even Malone, who was himself a somewhat far-gone reader. 
," ' Don't you find it rather dull ? ' he ventured to inquire. 

" ' Yes,' replied the Sage, ' it is dull.' 

" Malone 's eyes then rested on the apples, and he remarked 
he supposed they were for medicine. 

" Why, no,' said Johnson ; ' J believe they are only there 
because I wanted something to do. I have been confined to 
the house for a week, and so you find me roasting apples and 
reading the history of Birmingham.' 

" Happy is the man," adds Mr. Birrell, " who, in the hours of 
solitude and depression, can read a history of Birmingham." 



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96 BIRMINGHAM 

Edmund Oliver. His later life was clouded by mental 
depression, culminating in melancholia. 

Charles Lamb was also brought into friendly 
relationship with a brother of Charles, Richard 
Lloyd, who appealed to Lamb for protection against 
the (largely imaginary) persecutions of his father. 
Among the letters addressed to this young man are 
one or two of the best that Charles Lamb ever 
wrote. 

In 1824 Thomas Carlyle stayed for some months 
in Birmingham, as the guest of a Mr. Badams, a 
manufacturing chemist of Ashted, which was then a 
pleasant suburb. In his Reminiscences, Carlyle tells 
of his visit and of his impressions of Birmingham. 
Of Badams he writes with unusual kindness : — 

" My Birmingham visit, except as it continually 
kept me riding about in the open air, did nothing 
for me in the anti-dyspeptic way ; but in the social 
and spiritually consolatory way, it was really of 
benefit, Badams was a horse-fancier, skilful on 
horseback. His unaffected kindness and cheerful 
human sociality and friendliness, manifest at all 
times, could not but be of use to me. Seldom have I 
seen a franker, trustier, cheerier form of human 
kindliness than Badams' — how I remember the 
laughing eyes and sunny figure of him, breaking into 
my room on mornings, himself half dressed, * What ? 
Not up yet, monster? * " 

Besides exploring the neighbourhood on his pony 
" Affy," Carlyle spent much of his time wandering 
about the town, his description of which is worth 
quoting. 

" Birmingham I have now tried for a reasonable 
time, and I cannot complain of being tired of it. 
As a town it is pitiable enough — a mean congeries 



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LITERARY AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATIONS 07 

of bricks, including one or two great capitalists, some 
hundreds of minor ones, and perhaps a hundred 
and twenty thousand sooty artisans in metals and 
chemical produce. The streets are ill-built, ill- 
paved, always flimsy in their aspect — often poor, 
sometimes miserable. Not above one or two of 
them are paved with flagstones at the sides ; and 
to walk upon the little egg-shaped slippery flints 
that supply their place is something like a penance. 
Yet withal it is interesting, from some of the 
commons or lanes that spot or intersect its green, 
woody environs, to view this city of Tubal Cain. 
- Torrents of thick smoke, with now and then a burst 
of dingy flame, are issuing from a thousand funnels. 
A thousand hammers fall by turns. You hear the 
clank of innumerable steam-engines, the rumbling 
of carts or vans, and the hum of men, interrupted by 
the sharper rattle of some canal boat loading or 
disloading ; or, perhaps, some fierce explosion when 
the cannon-founders are pouring out their new-made 
ware. I have seen their rolling-mills, their polishing 
of teapots and buttons and gun-barrels and fire- 
shovels and swords, and all manner of toys and 
tackle. I have looked into their iron-works where 
150,000 men are melting the metal in a district a few 
miles to the north ; their coal mines, fit image of 
Avernus ; their tubs or vats as large as country 
churches, full of copperas and aquafortis and oil- 
of-vitriol ; and the whole is not without its attrac- 
tions, as well as repulsions." 

Another famous writer who sought in Birmingham 
relief from depression was Washington Irving, who 
came to stay with his brother-in-law, Henry Van 
Wart, just after the failure of his Liverpool business 
had reduced him to ruin. Van Wart succeeded in 



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98 BIRMINGHAM 

rousing Irving from his despondency, and Rip Van 
Winkle and the Sketch Book were written during his 
stay in Birmingham. Aston Hall appears in 
Irving's " Bracebridge Hall," where the Holt family 
are represented by the Bracebridges. His sketch of 
Stratford-on-Avon was also the outcome of an 
excursion made during his stay in the town. 

The only Birmingham writer who has an assured 
place in the literary history of the last century is 
Joseph Henry Shorthouse, a chemical manufac- 
turer who, at the age of fifty, suddenly became known 
in the literary world through his great novel, John 
Inglesant. The story had been the work of many 
years, and had been published for private circulation 
by Messrs. Cornish Brothers, when Mrs. Humphry 
Ward recommended it to Messrs. Macmillan. It is in 
part the story, under the guise of a romance, of the 
author's spiritual pilgrimage from his early Quaker 
associations to membership of the Church of England. 
The scenery of the book opens at Little Malvern and 
ends in the fields opposite Worcester Cathedral. 
Though full of the adventurous life of the seven- 
teenth century, it is, essentially, the- history of a 
soul, attaining to peace through the realisation of the 
sacramental significance of life. Mr. Shorthouse 
wrote several other stories — The Little Schoolmaster 
Mark (1883), Sir Percival (1886), The Countess Eve 
and A Teacher of the Violin (1888), and Blanche, 
Lady Falaise (1891) — but none of these — except, in 
some measure, the first — have the same strange 
fascination as John Inglesant. 

Among contemporary English poets, two Bir- 
mingham writers find a place. Mr. Alfred Hayes, 
now Principal of the Midland Institute, is the author 
of several volumes of poetry, and has recently 



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LITERARY AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATIONS 99 

published a striking Historic Tragedy on the career 
of Simon De Montfort ; and Mr. John Drinkwater is 
known as a poet and dramatist in wider than merely 
local circles. 

David Cox is the one painter of the first rank who 
has made Birmingham his home, for though Burne 
Jones was bom and educated in the town, he kept 
up no close connexion with the city after his school 
"days were over. David Cox was the son of a 
Birmingham master smith, and was set to his 
father's trade on leaving the elementary school 
which supplied him with all the school education 
he received. Finding the work of the anvil too 
much for his strength, he found employment in the 
"toy-trade," making buckles, painted lockets, etc. 
Then he became colour-grinder and scene-painter's 
assistant in the local theatre. Here he acquired 
valuable lessons in landscape work, and in 1804 he 
moved to London, where he painted and taught, 
finding it a hard struggle to live. After holding an 
appointment as teacher of art at Hereford Grammar 
School for some years, he returned tol^ondon, where 
the merits of bis work were now being recognised. 
Finally he settled in Harborne, on the outskirts of 
Birmingham, where he remained till his death in 
1859. Cox's output of pictures in water-colour, 
and subsequently in oils, was enormous, and pictures 
that he sold for a few pounds now fetch large sums. 
His range of subjects was narrow, but within the 
limits of quiet English landscape he has few equals. 
His work is straightforward and unaffected, achieving 
natural effects by simple means. 

It cannot be said that love of music is as con- 
spicuous a feature of Birmingham life is it is of the 
life of Wales or Yorkshire, but the triennial Musical 



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ioo BIRMINGHAM 

Festival has undoubtedly done something to foster 
musical education in the city. Fiom the beginning 
of the Festivals Handel's Messiah was the central 
feature, but after the Festival had been moved to the 
Town Hall, a wider range was given to the pro- 
gramme, and the Festivals of 1837 and 1840 were 
notable from the fact that Mendelssohn was present, 
to conduct the first performance of his St. Paul and 
of his Lobgesang. The appreciation with which 
these works were received led him to bring out the 
Elijah at the Festival of 1846. Since then many 
new works of importance have been produced at the 
Birmingham Festivals, one of the greatest being 
Gounod's Redemption, which was the feature of the 
1882 meeting. 

In 1905 Mr. Richard Peyton founded a Chair of 
Music at tie University, and Sir Edward Elgar was 
appointed the first Professor. On his resignation, 
Mr. Granville Bantock, who already held the office 
of Director of Music at the Midland Institute, was 
appointed to the Professorship, and thus a close link 
was established between the University and the 
School of Music at the Institute. 



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CHAPTER XHI 

SOME BIRMINGHAM WORTHIES 

IT seems proper to gather into a closing chapter a 
- few particulars of some Birmingham men who 
have not been already referred to. It is almost 
certain that John Rogers, editor, with Tyndale and 
Frith, of Matthew's Bible, was the son of a Deritend 
loriner. After leaving Cambridge he became 
Chaplain to the Merchant Adventurers at Antwerp, 
and there he joined in the translation of the Bible 
direct from the original Hebrew and Greek, which 
was published under the pseudonym of Thomas 
Matthew. Returning to England after the death of 
Henry VIII., Rogers became a Prebendary of St 
Paul's. On Mary's accession he was arrested, and 
suffered martyrdom at Smithfield — the first victim 
of the Marian persecution. 

Coming down to modern times, Birmingham 
claims among its notable men Sir Rowland Hill, 
whose father was a schoolmaster in the town, and 
who was himself the originator of one of the earliest 
experiments in carrying on a school on principles of 
self-government, "leaving, as much as possible, all 
power in the hands of the boys themselves." He 
published a pamphlet entitled Plans for the Govern- 
ment and Education of Boys in large numbers. 
Ill-health obliged him to leave Birmingham, and 
while acting as secretary to Gibbon Wakefield, he 



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102 BIRMINGHAM 

became interested in postal questions, and began to 
advocate penny postage (1837), and the use of 
stamps " covered at the back with a glutinous wash." 
When penny postage was adopted, in 1841, Rowland 
Hill entered the service of tie Post Office, and as 
Chief Secretary carried through many reforms in the 
organisation of the postal system. He died in 
1879. A statue of Sir Rowland Hill stands in the 
Hall of the Birmingham Post Office. 

Sir Francis G-alton, the well-known anthropolo- 
gist, was the son of S. T. Galton, of Duddestcm, 
whose estate is now Lightwoods Park. Francis 
Galton was born in 1822, and educated at King 
Edward's School. His grandfather was Erasmus 
Darwin of Lichfield, and he was cousin of the great 
Charles Darwin. He became known as an explorer 
and writer on Meteorology, and in later years took 
up the study of heredity, and may be regarded as 
the founder, in England, of the study of Eugenics. 
He died in 1911. 

The Rev. Rann Kennedy, second master of 
King Edward's School and Vicar of St. Paul's, was 
a poet of some repute, and the father of two sons 
who attained distinction — Charles Rann Kennedy, 
known for his translations of the Orations of 
Demosthenes ; and Benjamin Hall Kennedy, head 
master of Shrewsbury School and Regius Professor of 
Greek in Cambridge University. 

Edward Augustus Freeman, the well-known 
historian, a nephew of Thomas Attwood, was born 
in Harborne in 1823 : and Edwin Hatch, whose 
work in early Church History led at one time to much 
controversy, was educated at King Edward's School, 
which also numbers amongst its jutpils Grant Allen, 
the writer on Biology, and John Churton Collins, 



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SOME BIRMINGHAM WORTHIES 103 

who held the Chair of English Literature in Bir- 
mingham University during the last two years of his 
life. John Thackray Bunce, for forty years editor of 
the Birmingham Daily Post, and Samuel Timmins, 
F.S.A., who did valuable service to the Library, 
are honourably remembered in the city, and Joshua 
Toulmin Smith, the historian of English Gilds, was 
a Birmingham man, and wrote small monographs 
on Traditions of the Old Crown House, in Der-yat-end, 
and Men and Names — Founders, Freeholders and 
Indwellers, as contributions to the history of the 
city. 

Among the worthies of Birmingham, a niche must 
be found for Charles Reece Pemberton, actor and 
lecturer, of whom Holyoake says that he was the 
most popular lecturer who ever entered a Mechanics' 
Institution. He spent the earlier years of an 
adventurous life in the city, before escaping from an 
uncongenial apprenticeship to Liverpool, where he 
was kidnapped for the Navy. He died in Birmingham 
in 1840. 



Note oh Ways op Spelling Birmingham. 

Mr. William Hamper, F.S.A., collected the following list 
of variations in the spelling of the name of the city. Forty-nine 
are from MSS., the rest from printed volumes. 



Brnmwycham 

Burmyngham 
Birmingham 



Brymincham 
Benningeham 
Binnincham 
Birmyngeham 

Berkmyngham 
Bremicham 

Biomidgliam 



Bremiacham 
Bermicham 
Burmyncham 

Bromwycham 
Boutmyneham 
Birmygham 



Bromwycham 

Byrmyngham 
Briraingham 

Brymymcham 
Bermengeham 
Bennyncham 

Byrmicham 



Brinningham 



Brimicham 
Bunningham 

Brimingeham 



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BIRMINGHAM 

Bfl ttiflgimM 
BatmyaafcaUuuB 



Brymyeoham 



Brimiicham 
BinninchAm 
Byrmyngeham 



Bormyngehain 
Bynnycham 

Birmyngehame 



Bremecham 

Brymysham 

Bunnicheham 

Byrmigcham 

Brymyngham 

Bynnyngecham 

Bumucham 

Bunnycham 

Brununidgham 

Burmegam 

R m m ming r.ha m 

Birmingham 

Brymygeham 

Breanyngchaiu 

Biymyham 

Buryraynham 



ByimyncbUD 
Brummingham 

Bynnighain 



Brymmyngehao 
Biymicoam 

Bennichebam 
Biyminham 



Brymyiigeham 

Brymingecham 



Beringham 

Bnimigham 

Brimechamc 

BurmychaEQ 

Bernxgham 

B rimmigham 

Birymincham 

Byimingeham 

Brimmidgehani 

Brumegume 

Bromidgome 

Brumegam 

Burmingtiam 



Rtr mifigr.il a m 

Bunnicham 
Bnrmyngcham 

Bermyngam 
Biimyngcham 

Berringham 
Brymingbam 
Byrmincham 

Birmiogcliam 



Bremmencham 
Bremingem 

Brumicham 



Bormycham 

Brymraynghara 

Brymyscham 

Bermechagra. 



Brymynham 

Brymyngiam 
Brimyticham 
Burmygham 



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INDEX 



Adult Schools, 75 

Arig, Mr., 27 

Art Gallery, 58 

Ash, Dr. John, 27 

Ashley, Sir W., quoted, I, 15 

Aston Church, 72 

. Hall, 12, 98 

Attwood, Thomas, 35, 40, 42, 
45 

Basksrvillb, John, 21 
Benson, E. W., 73 
Birmingham Gazette, 27 
Birmingham and Midland In- 
stitute, 79 
Bishopric of Birmingham, 74-75 
Bine Coat School, 17 
Boulton, Matthew, 14, 23-25 
Boundaries, extension of, 56 
Bourn ville, 3, 77 
Bright, John, Go, 61, 62, 63, 64 
Brougham, Henry, 35, 36 
" Brummagem," 13 
Buckle trade, 14 
Bunce, J. T„ 51, 103 



Churchill, Lord Randolph, 63 
Clarendon, quoted, 10, n 
Clay, Henry, 21 
Coleridge, S. F., 95 
Corporation Street, 55 
Council House, 57 
Crosskey, Dr., 71 

Dale, Dr. R. W., 70-71 ; 

quoted, 50—51 
Dawson, George, 50, 69 
De Birmingham family, 6-7 
Deritend Gild, 8 
Dixon, George, 61, 80 
Domesday Book, 5 



Canals, 26-27 
Carlyle, Thomas, 96-97 
Cartwright, Major, 39 
Caucus, 62 

Chamberlain, John Henry, t 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 4, . 

52, 34. 61, 63, 64-65, 83 
Chance, Sir J. T„ 89 
Chartism, 44 
Christ Church, 39, 67 



Edmonds, G., 38 
Eginton, F., 25 
Elkington, G. H., 87, 88 

Fairs, 6-7 
Freeman, E. H., 102 
Freeth, John, 93 

Galton, StR F-, 101 
Gas, 54 

Gillott, Joseph, 87 

Hatch, E., 102 
Hiley, M., quoted, 49 
Hill, Davenport, 48 

, Sir Rowland, 101 

Holte, Sir Thomas, 12 
Holy Cross, field of, 8 
Holyoake, G. J-, 37 J quoted, 
37-38 
105 H 



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Hospital, General, 27 
Hutton, William, 94 ; quoted, 
I, 17, 19,20-41,26 

Irving, Washington, 97 

Sames, J. Angell, 68 
ewellery trade, 89 
ohnson, Samuel, 27, 92-93 
ones, E. Bunie, 73, 99 



Lamb, Charles. 95 
" Lamp Act," 46 
Leather Hall, 9 
Leland, John, quoted, 8 
Lench's Trust, 9 
Lightfoot, J. B., 73 
Lloyds' Bank, 21 
Lunar Society, 31 

Market, 6-7 

Mason, Sir Josiah, 82, 87 

Miller, Dr., 71 

Misson, quoted, 13 
Morfitt, John, quoted, 33 
Municipal Corporations Act, 47 
Munts, G. F., 40, 45 

— — , Philip, 62 
Murdock, William, 24 
Musical Festivals, 47, 100 

Nelson, Lord, 33 
Newdigate, Sir R., 14 
Newman, Cardinal, 73 
Nonconformity in Birmingham , 
H. 15. « 

OsiROGORSKi, quoted, 53 



Priory, the, 8 
Public Library, 57 
Public Health inquiry, 49 



Railways, 85 
Rogers, John, 101 

Rupert, Prince, II 

Sacreverell, Dr., 18 

St. Martin's Church, 7. 8, 13, 

16, 67, 72 
St. Martin's Trustees, 74 
St. Philip's Church, 17, 27, 73 
Smith, J. Tonlrnin, 103 
Shorthouse, J. H., 98 
Salt, Clutton, 40, 41 

Tang ye Bros., 90 
Taylor, John, 20, 34 
Timmins, Samuel, 103 
Town Planning, 36 



Vaughan, R. A., 68 
Victoria Law Courts, 87 
Vince, Charles, 50, 71 

Waterworks, 54 
Watt, James, 23-25 
Wesley, John, 66-67 
Westcott, B. F., 51, 73 
Worcester, Diocese of, 71 
Wyatt, Paul, 20 



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THE STORY OF THE ENGLISH TOWNS 

Bath E. Thompson and C. Spender 

Birmingham Canon J. H. B. Masterman 

Bristol Prof. G. H. Leonard 

Cambridge A. Gray 

Chester Miss M. V. Taylor 

Halifax J. S. Fletcher 

Harrogate and Knaresborough J- S. Fletcher 

Hastings L. F. Salzman 

King's Lynn Prof. E. Tyrrell Green 

Leeds J. S, Fletcher 

Leicester S. H. Skillington 

Newcastle Prof. F. J. C. Hearnshaw 

Nottingham E. L. Guilford 

Oxford J. Wells 

Peterborough K. E. & R. E. Roberts 

Plymouth A. L. Salmon 

Pontcfract J. S. Fletcher 

St. Albans W. Page 

Sheffield J. S. Fletcher 

Shrewsbury Dr. H. S. Cranage 

Wakefield The Ret. A. Goodall 

Westminster The Rev. H. F. Westlake 

Windsor Mrs. Tkmperley 

York Miss M. Sellers 

{OtJuri in Contemplation) 



LONDON; S.F.C.K. 

APR? 1921 .....Google 



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